The short answer is yes; you can be infected again with Hepatitis C despite being treated for the disease before, according to the CDC. There are six different types of Hepatitis C, and if you test positive, you are only treated for one. You can be reinfected with another type if your habits remain the same. Therefore, taking preventive measures for the rest of your life, whether or not you have been treated for Hepatitis C before, is advisable.
Hepatitis C is a liver infection that causes inflammation, scarring, and ultimately liver failure if not treated properly. It's also a fairly common disease in both the developed and the undeveloped parts of the world. This widespread prevalence is because Hepatitis C can be transmitted to other people through multiple means.
HOW IS HEPATITIS C TRANSMITTED?
Knowing how the hepatitis C virus is transmitted can help you understand the disease better and take precautions and prevent acquiring the condition in the first place.
A blood-borne virus causes hepatitis C. Therefore, direct contact with an infected person's blood can transmit the disease quickly. Here are some scenarios that are considered high-risk activities for the transmission of Hepatitis C:
- Sharing needles for drug injections – This is one of the highest-risk activities because it involves direct blood-to-blood contact through skin penetration.
- Tattoos and Piercings – Getting tattoos and piercings also involves coming into contact with blood. The equipment used for tattooing and piercings might be infected with Hepatitis C and cause the spread of the virus to other people.
- Blood transfusion – Albeit low due to improved screening procedures, blood transfusions also carry the virus's risk.
- Health care exposure – Hepatitis C can also be acquired in a hospital setting when health care professionals do not take appropriate steps to minimize the transmission of the virus. For example, improper sterilization of medical equipment, reusing the same equipment, not having a separate set of equipment for Hepatitis C positive patients, and improper disposal of hospital waste.
- Vertical transmission – The virus can also be transmitted from the mother to the baby before and during birth.
HOW TO PREVENT HEPATITIS C INFECTIONS?
Since no vaccine for hepatitis C exists, and even tiny amounts of blood are enough for transmission, you must take proper preventive measures to minimize your chances of acquiring the virus. These preventative measures are applicable even if you have been treated for Hepatitis C in the past.
- Never, under any circumstance, share needles or other injecting equipment
- Avoid sharing personal hygiene products such as razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers, etc.
- If you must, get piercings and tattoos from registered places that follow the health and safety code for Hepatitis C prevention. You can always ask the employees about their sanitation process.
- Always practice safe sex. Safe sex practices include wearing a condom for sexual intercourse, getting yourself and your partner tested for Hepatitis C and STDs, avoiding having multiple sexual partners, and avoiding having intercourse with people who have multiple sexual partners. Special discretion is needed if you engage in sex work and group sex activities.
- Avoid coming into direct contact with blood. This is especially important for healthcare professionals.
If you think you were exposed to any of these risk factors, contact your health care professional as soon as possible. Prompt diagnosis and treatment can help you manage the symptoms and eliminate Hepatitis C!