How do I get Hep C?

The main way that you can get hepatitis C is by coming into contact with the blood of someone who has the infection.

Have you used a needle or drug vial that is not sterilised properly?

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. Hepatitis C can also be transmitted by needles used for tattoos and piercings that haven't been sterilised properly.

Have you shared any drug use equipment?

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.

Have you had unprotected sex?

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.

Have you had a blood transfusion before 1996?

All blood donated in the UK since 1996 has been checked for the hepatitis C virus. However, if you had a blood transfusion (or any blood products) before this date you may have been at risk.

Have you had medical or dental treatment abroad?

If you have had medical or dental treatment in a country where there are high levels of hepatitis C and the medical equipment was not sterile you could have been at risk. High-risk areas overseas include Russia, North Africa, South and Southeast Asia and China.

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you may have been at risk of hepatitis C, find out what you can do about it…

If you think you might have been at risk of hepatitis C and you live in England you can get tested through the national hepatitis C testing portal – just click on our get tested page to order a free, at-home testing kit.  If the result is positive you will be automatically contacted by your local treatment service.

Many other places offer testing for hepatitis C:

  • Sexual Health Clinics
  • GP Practices
  • Drug and Alcohol Services

You can find a list of these services on:

You can't get hepatitis C by:

  • Kissing
  • Social contact, such as hugging or holding hands (unless blood is transferred)
  • Sharing kitchen utensils, such as knives and forks (unless there is a chance blood can be transferred)
  • Toilet seats