Back to Question & Answers

My husband got hep c in jail 6 years ago. He did the treatment and got cured. He's back there again. What are the ways that it spreads, that would suck if he got it again.

You bring up an important point that people can be re-infected with hepatitis C virus even if they had previously been treated and cured. Hepatitis C is a highly contagious virus and can easily be transmitted to others through blood, even if in very tiny amounts and too small to see. A significant number of incarcerated in Canada have been reported to be infected with hep C virus. Since the virus can remain dormant without symptoms for a long time, hep C can go unnoticed.

The hep C virus can spread by sharing equipment used for injecting drugs, tattooing, and body piercing and sometimes while having sex with those living with hep C. The risk of transmission of hep C through sex is low however condomless anal sex and the presence of an STI (sexually transmitted infection) increases the risk.

Hepatitis C transmission can be prevented by:

  • not sharing needles for any activities like body piercing, tattooing or acupuncture.
  • not sharing drug use equipment like cookers, tourniquets/ties, water or cotton/filter, pipes, straws for snorting or swabs.
  • not sharing personal items like toothbrushes, razors or nail clippers.
  • using barriers like condoms & water based lube while having sex.

Not everyone needs medical treatment, there are some people who are able to clear the virus on their own. However a large majority of them may need to be treated. Getting to discuss this with a health care provider will help in prevention, getting tested and treated if necessary. It is important to note that there is no vaccine to prevent infection.