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The main way that you can get Hepatitis C is by coming into contact with the blood of someone who has the infection.
If you have injected drugs (which includes steroids) and haven’t used sterile equipment you are at risk even it has only happened once - that’s all it takes. Hep C can also be transmitted by needles used for tattoos and piercings that haven't been sterilised properly.
FACT: It’s estimated that 49% of people in England who inject drugs have Hepatitis C.
FACT: 90% of the Hep C cases in England are from people who are or have previously injected drugs.
You can get Hepatitis C from sharing drug use equipment, which includes needles, water, cups, filters, spoons, and items you may use for snorting like notes and straws. Even if blood doesn’t look visible on these items, small amounts can still be there.
If you have unprotected sex with someone who has the infection, you are at risk if there is a possibility of blood-to-blood contact. The risk is higher in sex where blood is present, through menstruation, or rough anal sex, where skin can tear.
All blood donated in the UK since 1992 has been checked for the Hepatitis C virus. However, if you had a blood transfusion (or any blood products) before this date you may be at risk.
If you have had medical or dental treatment in a country where there are high levels of Hep C and the medical equipment was not sterile you could be at risk. High-risk areas overseas include Russia, North Africa, South and Southeast Asia and China.
If you think you might be at risk you can get in touch with your local NHS drug and alcohol service who can offer you quick access to testing and treatment. Find out what services are available in your area below.
If you do not want to attend a drug and alcohol treatment service, testing can also take place at GPs and Sexual Health Clinics. You can find a list of these on the nhs.uk website (England), the NHS Direct Wales website (Wales), the NHS Inform website (Scotland) and HSCNI Online website (Northern Ireland).
Hep C Testing