Hepatitis C is transmitted through blood-to-blood contact with someone who has an untreated hepatitis C infection. Transmission can occur in various ways, including:

  • Sharing a needle or syringe
  • Sharing items used to snort drugs
  • Having unprotected (condomless) vaginal or anal sex
  • Getting a tattoo or body piercing with contaminated equipment
  • Sharing a toothbrush, razor, or other items that have traces of blood carrying the HCV virus

HCV can only be transmitted through blood-blood contact, but unlike HIV, virtually any source of blood is capable of carrying the hepatitis C virus—even indirect sources, like razors. Also unlike HIV, the hepatitis C virus can survive outside of the body at room temperature, for up to 3 weeks. 

Because symptoms for HCV are rare, we recommend regular and routine HCV testing, especially if you may be vulnerable for infection.