HCV (Hepatitis C)

Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV), which can lead to serious liver damage.

About HCV

  • HCV is transmitted through contact with blood from an infected person. The most common way HCV is spread is through shared syringes and other drug equipment. However, anal sex, “rough” sex and sex during menstruation are also potential means for HCV transmission. Additionally, items that can come in contact with blood, such as toothbrushes, razors or sex toys, are of risk for having HCV.

  • For some people, HCV doesn’t last long and is cleared naturally from the body.  For the other 70%–85% of people living with HCV, it becomes a chronic infection.

  • Chronic HCV can result in long-term health problems, even death.

  • HCV is curable with antiviral medication intended to clear the virus from the body. Also, there is no “sobriety” requirement for treatment.

HCV prevention tools:

  • ​Get tested regularly for HCV, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Other STDs can increase transmission of HIV and HCV because they often cause inflammation, leaving tissues more vulnerable to abrasion or microtears and giving bloodborne pathogens an easy way into the body.

  • Using new syringes and injection equipment, including other works like cookers, cottons, and ties. HCV can live on surfaces for about two weeks and in a syringe for months.

  • Use safer smoking tools for meth, crack or other drugs. Blood from cracked lips or glass can be a home for HCV. Consider a pipe cover, wiping the pipe mouthpiece with an alcohol swab or avoiding any cracked, chipped or broken glass. 

  • Trying safer snorting practices: use a clean surface and razor, avoid sharing tooters and avoid using dollar bills to make a tooter. 

  • Avoiding shared hygiene items like razors and toothpaste.

  • Using barriers appropriate for the sex you have, like condom, internal condoms or dams 

  • Use barriers appropriate for the sex you have, like condoms, internal condoms or dams.

  • Considering personal lube to reduce microtears in tissue. 

    • Water-based lube is generally allergy-free and safe for anybody. Additionally, it is easy to wash off and can be reconstituted with a bit of water if it becomes sticky or dry. 

    • Silicone lube is often favored by individuals who practice anal sex because it lasts longer and doesn’t dry out. This is key as the anus doesn’t lubricate.

    • Oil-based lube such as baby oil, lotion or Vaseline etc. can damage condoms and is not recommended.