Hepatitis C is passed through blood-to-blood contact. It is most often passed by:
- Sharing drug equipment such as needles, syringes and pipes.
- Blood or blood product transfusions in a country where the blood supply is not tested for hepatitis C. In Canada, this applies to transfusions received before 1992. As of June 1992, all blood and blood products in Canada have been screened for hepatitis C.
- Tattoos, body-piercing, acupuncture or electrolysis if the equipment is not sterile.
- Sexual contact where blood is exchanged, especially when a person has a sexually transmitted infection or is living with HIV.
Pregnancy: Tell your health care provider if you are pregnant and are living with hepatitis C infection. You can pass hepatitis C to your child during birth. Breast/chest-feeding is usually still encouraged, but talk to your health care provider.
Hepatitis C is not passed through exchange of genital fluids or by casual contact such as hugging, kissing, sneezing, coughing, or sharing food or drinks.
People living with chronic hepatitis C infection can pass it to others even if they don’t have symptoms.