Breaking Down Hep C Myths
May 07, 2024

Hepatitis C, commonly known as Hep C, is a viral infection that affects the liver. It is estimated that around 2.4 to 4.7 million in the United States have active Hep C – making it one of the most prevalent blood-borne diseases in the country.

Despite its prevalence, there are still a lot of myths surrounding the hepatitis C virus. These misconceptions can lead to stigmatization and discrimination, which, in turn, can hinder proper treatment and prevention efforts.

In this article, we will break down some of the most common myths surrounding hepatitis C infection and provide accurate information to promote awareness and understanding. So, let’s jump right in: 

Myth 1: If You Have Hepatitis C, You’ll Know It Right Away 

Unlike many other viral infections, hepatitis C does not always present immediate and noticeable symptoms. In fact, only about 20% of people with acute Hep C will experience symptoms shortly after infection. For most, symptoms may not appear until years later. Some may learn after developing serious health problems, such as cirrhosis, liver cancer, or kidney problems. 

The CDC recommends that everyone over the age of 18 should get tested for Hep C at least once in their lifetime. More frequent testing is recommended for those at a higher risk of infection, such as people who inject drugs, have multiple partners, or are living with HIV. This will help catch the hepatitis c virus infection early on and prevent serious health complications. 

Myth 2: You Can Give Yourself Hep C By Reusing Your Own Needles

Contrary to popular belief, you cannot contract hepatitis C by reusing your own needles. Hepatitis C is primarily spread through contact with an infected person’s blood. This can happen through sharing needles and other drug paraphernalia with someone who has hepatitis C- but reusing your own needles does not put you at risk for infection. 

However, reusing needles can increase the risk of other infections and complications, so it is important to always use clean needles. Harm reduction services, such as needle exchange programs, can help reduce the risk of transmission and promote safer injection practices. 

Myth 3: There’s a Vaccine for Hepatitis C 

There's a Vaccine for Hepatitis C

Unlike hepatitis A and B, there is currently no vaccine available for chronic hepatitis C infection. This is due to the complex nature of the virus and its ability to constantly mutate. Doctors will often recommend that individuals at risk for Hep C get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B to protect their liver from further damage. 

The best ways to prevent hepatitis C is to avoid:

  • Sharing needles and other drug equipment.
  • Getting tattoos or piercings in unregulated settings.
  • Sharing personal hygiene items, such as toothbrushes or razors.
  • Engaging in high-risk sexual behaviors without protection.

Myth 4: Hepatitis C Virus Can Spread Through Casual Contact 

Many people mistakenly believe that hepatitis C can be spread through casual contact, such as hugging, kissing, or sharing food or drinks. However, this is not the case. Hepatitis C is primarily spread through blood-to-blood contact. This means that the virus must enter your bloodstream in order for infection to occur. 

Casual contact does not provide an opening for the virus to enter your body and infect you. You cannot get Hep C from sharing utensils, using public restrooms, or being around someone who has the virus. It is important to educate yourself and others on the true methods of transmission to reduce stigma and discrimination towards those living with hepatitis C. 

Myth 5: Hep C Will Go Away on Its Own

While some people may develop an acute infection with hepatitis C that clears on its own, most will not. In fact, if left untreated, hepatitis C can lead to chronic illness and severe liver damage. It is essential to seek medical treatment and follow a treatment plan to successfully clear the virus from your body. 

Even if you do not experience symptoms, it is crucial to get tested for hepatitis C if you believe you may have been exposed. Early detection and treatment can prevent long-term liver damage and improve your overall health. 

Myth 6: The New Hep C Treatment Is No Different Than the Old One 

 The New Hep C Treatment Is No Different Than the Old One

Since the introduction of direct-acting antiviral (DAA) medications, there has been a misconception that they are no different than the older treatments for hepatitis C. However, this is not true. 

DAAs work by targeting specific proteins within the virus in order to stop it from replicating and spreading in your body. Unlike previous treatments, which had many potential side effects and lower cure rates, DAAs have a high success rate and minimal side effects. 

They also work faster, with most people being cured within 8-12 weeks. This is a significant improvement from older treatments that could take up to a year or more to complete and may not even result in a cure. 

In Need of Hep C Testing or Treatment? 

At Connect to Cure, we understand the importance of early detection and treatment for hepatitis C. We offer free and confidential testing services to help identify any potential infections and provide education on preventative measures. If you are diagnosed with hepatitis C, we can also connect you with resources for affordable and effective treatment options. 

Contact us today to learn more about hepatitis C and how we can help you take control of your health.