What is Hep C?

  • Hepatitis is an illness caused by swelling and irritation of the liver.
  • Hepatitis can be caused by chemicals, drugs or viral infections. Hepatitis A, B and C are three types of viral hepatitis. 
  • Most infections occur through exposure to blood from injection drug use and sexual practices that lead to exposure to blood.
  • The virus can range from a mild illness to a serious, lifelong illness including liver disease and cancer.
  • It's important to get tested and treated for Hep C. You can be tested for Hep C in prison. Talk to a nurse or fill in a self referral form to find out about how to get a test. 

Stories about Hep C on the inside

Watch this video to listen to some of the stories and advice from men in prison who have been tested and treated for Hep C

Stories of men who have been tested and treated for Hep C in prison video

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What are the symptoms?

  • Symptoms include flu-like symptoms, dark wee, and yellowing of the eyeballs and skin (jaundice).
  • Some people with ongoing hepatitis C will feel well and never develop any of these signs, but they are still infectious and can pass it on to others.
  • A small number of people with chronic hepatitis C will have liver failure or cancer of the liver.

People with chronic hepatitis C may feel:

  • Fatigue Loss of appetite
  • Nausea/vomiting Soreness in the right upper part of the belly Fever or flu like symptoms
  • Joint pains

How did I get it?

Hepatitis C is passed on when the blood of an infected person enters the bloodstream of an uninfected person.

Infection can happen through any form of skin penetration with unsterile equipment, including: 

  • Sharing needles, syringes, spoons, tourniquets and other injecting equipment
  • Needle stick injuries
  • Tattooing and body piercing
  • Acupuncture
  • Sharing toothbrushes, razors or sex toys
  • Other items that may have blood on them
  • Blood from an infected person makes direct contact with an open wound or cut of a person who isn’t infected (Blood-to-blood contact).

Very rarely, hepatitis C may also be transmitted:

  • From mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding if the mother’s nipples are cracked or infected.
  • During sex, if there is blood being swapped.
  • During medical procedures, if standard precautions are not followed.

Hepatitis C is not passed on by casual contact, such as:

  • Hugging or holding hands
  • Kissing on the cheek



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