Am I at risk of Contracting Hepatitis C?
Hep C is only passed on when blood from someone who has hep C gets into the bloodstream of another person.
This is called blood-to-blood contact. Hepatitis C can be passed on by very small amounts of blood – even tiny amounts you can’t see.
In Australia the most common way for hep C to be passed on is when people share equipment used to inject drugs. This could be drugs like heroin, amphetamines, or performance-enhancing drugs like steroids. Sharing any equipment such as needles, syringes, swabs, spoons, tourniquets, water, filters, and hands (if someone is helping you to inject or you are helping them) can put you at risk.
You may have injected drugs on only a few occasions, many years ago and have contracted Hep C without even knowing it. For more information on getting tested for Hep C see these factsheets.
Hep C can also be passed on when the equipment used for tattooing or piercing is not sterile. This is more likely if the person tattooing or piercing you has not been trained in infection control procedures e.g. backyard or prison tattooists.
How else can someone get hep c?
- medical procedures or vaccinations in countries with poor infection control
- sharing personal-care items such as razors, toothbrushes, tweezers
- blood-transfusions in Australia before February 1990
- from mother to baby
- accidental pricking with a needle (also known as a needle stick injury)
- sharing drug-snorting equipment, including rolled up bank notes
- blood-to-blood contact during a fight
- sex involving blood-to-blood contact
- sex in which one or more people is living with HIV
This page was last updated 14 June 2017.