Sharing needles, straws, pipes, spoons and other drug-related equipment.
(At least two-thirds of all new hepatitis C infections are drug-use related. Cleaning equipment with bleach does not always effectively kill the virus)
Getting a tattoo, body piercing or acupuncture from an operator who does not use sterile equipment or techniques
Being born to a mother with hepatitis C
Getting pierced by a needle or sharp equipment that has infected blood on it ( in a hospital, workplace situation, etc.)
People who had blood transfusions before the testing of blood donations became mandatory in 1990 may also be at risk. And, while the risk is low, it is also possible to become infected by sharing personal household articles such as a razor or toothbrush with an infected person. The risk of transmission of hepatitis C during sex is also low, unless both parties have open bleeding sores.
It is estimated that 240, 000 people in Canada are currently infected with hepatitis C, of whom only 30% know they have the virus.
If you think you may be at risk, either now or from past risky activities see a doctor. The virus can be detected with a simple blood test, and there are steps and medications you can take to successfully minimize the effects of the disease if your diagnosis is positive. For more information, visit Health Canada's Web site at www.healthcanada.ca/hepc.
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