How Is Hepatitis C Transmitted?
The only way to get the virus is direct blood-to-blood contact. Liver specialist Dr. Douglas Dieterich explains what that means.
By Dr. Sanjay Gupta
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Sanjay Gupta, MD, Everyday Health:It's basically a simplistic question, but what does blood-to-blood transmission mean? You have blood in a syringe, for example. How long has it been sitting there, and how long can it still transmit the virus?
Douglas Dieterich, MD, The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai:It's probably 7 to 10 days.
Dr. Gupta:So if blood is sitting in a syringe for 7 to 10 days and then it is used again, it can still transmit?
Dr. Dieterich:Yeah, it's scary.
Dr. Gupta:It's remarkable.
Dr. Dieterich:Yeah, it is. It's a smart virus.
Dr. Gupta:Cocaine straws — and admittedly I have never done that — but how would cocaine straws, that doesn’t sound like a blood-to-blood transmission.
Dr. Dieterich:Well, it's a sharp straw you know. You get a little nick, a little blood. Even other things that you don’t even think about, like manicures, pedicures, boxing, rugby — a lot of people get cuts, they are in the scrum — so things like that are all risks that you don’t even think about.
Dr. Gupta:That's going to scare a lot of people. When you talk about manicures, for example. Is there a way that can be done properly, or what's happening?
Dr. Dieterich:You know, it's hard to sterilize those instruments, so I think to be perfectly safe you should just bring your own manicure instruments. You have seen people get their cuticles nicked, right, when they have a manicure, and then they dip the scissors in the blue viral culture medium there and shake it off? Then it's not sterile, you know, by any means.
Dr. Gupta:That doesn’t do the trick.
Dr. Dieterich:That doesn’t really do the trick, no.
Video: How Do You Get Hepatitis C?
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