Unlike hepatitis A and B, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C, so the best ways to prevent hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and its complications are avoiding exposure, timely testing and prompt treatment. 

Knowing your HCV status is the first step toward treatment and a cure, which eliminates the virus so you can’t pass it on. Guidelines recommend that all adults should be tested for HCV at least once, and those with ongoing risk should be tested regularly. 

Here are some HCV prevention tips:

  • Not injecting drugs would eliminate the most common route of HCV transmission. If you do inject drugs, use a new sterile syringe and other equipment every time. In addition to syringes, HCV can be transmitted via cookers, water and other injection supplies.
  • Obtain new needles and supplies from a syringe exchange or distribution program.
  • If you must share syringes, cleaning them thoroughly with bleach may reduce the risk of HCV transmission, but not as much as using new ones.
  • Do not share non-injection drug equipment, such as straws or pipes.
  • Do not share toothbrushes, razors or other personal care items that could have come in contact with blood.
  • If you are considering a tattoo or body piercing, have it done by a reputable, licensed professional who follows hygiene procedures and uses sterile equipment.
  • Condoms can reduce the risk of HCV transmission during sex, but they do not offer complete protection.
  • If you have hepatitis C, cover any cuts or wounds. Clean blood on surface with a bleach solution or other effective disinfectant.