Hepatitis C is a small and very contagious virus that is transmitted by the infectious agent in the blood entering someone else's bloodstream.

The most common transmission is via intravenous drug use. Meaning when people share their syringes and accessories with each other.

Very little blood is needed for the virus to transmit. Blood particles can suffice. The virus can also live outside the body for a long period of time.

In order not to risk getting or transmitting hepatitis C. Remember:

  1. Never share syringes or accessories with anyone. Always make sure that you have your own syringe, solution, filter, etc. Please get something to store your tools in which you can mark up, to have better control.
  2. Always tattoo and pierce yourself at a legitimate studio. The same is true there, never share equipment and accessories with anyone else.
  3. Never share snorting tubes/banknotes etc, which you use to snort your drug. Small wounds in the nose leave blood particles.
  4. Always use your own razor and toothbrush. There is a risk of cutting or bleeding in the gums, which leaves blood particles.
  5. Because the virus is transmitted via blood, hepatitis C is not considered a sexually transmitted disease. But in cases where there is a risk that blood may be present, protection is always recommended. Ex. during menstruation and sex where friction can create cracks and wounds.
  6. Viruses, unlike bacteria, are extremely difficult to boil away.
    If you need to clean syringes, surfaces etc - use chlorine. This is the most effective way, for example, if you have to use an already used syringe.

Hepatitis C usually shows no symptoms at all. This means that you can be the carrier of the virus without noticing anything. It is not only harmful to one's health but also increases the risk of continued spread. In the unlikely event that you experience symptoms, you could feel tiredness, chills and pain in joints/muscles. You may also suffer from decreased appetite, weight loss, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Around 10% get jaundice and therefore suffer from yellowish eye whites/skin.

Hepatitis C mainly causes liver damage.
The liver is an important organ that supports several important functions of the body, that's why a damaged liver is serious on many more levels. When the immune system attacks the virus, it causes scarring of the liver (fibrosis) which gets worse over time. This is measured in various stages of fibrosis. When the liver is covered with scars, it is called cirrhosis.

Hepatitis C is divided into two phases.

The acute phase - Counted from the time of transfer and 6 months ahead.
Often you go through this phase unnoticed, but it is more common during this period that it self-heals.

Chronic phase - Hepatitis C is classified as chronic after 6 months.
If the hepatitis C has not healed by then, treatment is necessary.

Since hepatitis C is classified as an asymptomatic disease, regular sampling is of the highest importance. The incubation period for hepatitis C is between 2 weeks and 6 months. If you know that you are exposed to risks, it is better to test yourself regularly.

Testing is free of charge

Rather once too much.

If you have never been tested for hepatitis C, or if you have had negative test results, you first need to take an antibody test. This test is taken to see if there are antibodies in the blood. It only shows if you have encountered the virus. If antibodies are found, you need to take an HCV RNA sample that determines a hepatitis C diagnosis, or if it is cured.

If you know you have had hepatitis C and become virus-free by treatment or cure, you just need to take the HCV RNA sample.

Once you have had hepatitis C, antibodies are left in the blood. Antibodies are no protection, you do not become immune and can therefore be re-infected.

You may have several types of hepatitis at the same time.

Having several types of hepatitis strains your liver and even your health more. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine against hepatitis C. But vaccines is available against hepatitis A & B. By vaccinating yourself, you are not only protected against these hepatitis, but also against hepatitis D. Hepatitis D you can only get in connection with the transmission of hepatitis B

For your own sake and for your fellow human beings - Protect yourself - Test yourself - Seek treatment. No one should have to live with the turmoil and stress that it often entails when living with hepatitis C for a long time.

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Infographic about hepatitis C (Swedish)