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Your commonly answered questions about Hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C (HCV) is a chronic infection that is often asymptomatic, so screening is necessary to identify those with an infection but only those with risk factors. The Canadian Task Force on Preventative Health does not recommend screening adults, not at elevated risk of HCV. Risk factors and screening are identified in the bullets below.
HCV can be acquired through 'percutaneous exposure' (inadequately sterilized medical equipment) or the receipt of contaminated blood products. Other risk factors include the use of IV drugs, high-risk sexual contact, unsterilized tattoo or piercing equipment, and occupational exposures. Many people with chronic HCV infection do not develop symptoms and not everyone will develop cirrhosis (liver damage).
We recommend screening in only the following risk categories:
- Current or past history of injection drug use
- Have been incarcerated
- Born, traveled or resided in an HCV-endemic country
- Received healthcare where there is a lack of universal precautions
- Recipient of blood transfusions, blood products, or an organ transplant before 1992
- Hemodialysis patients
- Individuals who have had needle stick injuries
- Other risks sometimes associated with HCV exposure, such as:
- High-risk sexual behaviors, homelessness, intranasal and inhalation drug use, tattooing, body piercing, sharing sharp instruments or personal hygiene materials with someone who is HCV positive
If you do not follow into one of the above risk categories, we DO NOT recommend screening testing.