Hepatitis C is a virus that can cause severe liver illness. The virus can only be passed on when blood from someone who has hep C gets into the bloodstream of another person. Even very small amounts of blood – amounts so small you may not be able to see the blood – can pass on hepatitis C. In Australia the most common way for hep C to be passed on is when people share equipment that is used to inject drugs. This might mean recreational drugs or performance-enhancing drugs. Sharing any equipment can be a risk.
Needles, syringes, swabs, spoons, tourniquets, water, filters and hands
Avoiding blood-to-blood contact is the best way to prevent the transmission of hep C, so always use your own equipment when you’re injecting drugs or steroids.
If you inject drugs (ice, heroin etc) or if you inject steroids (like testosterone) then you can help prevent hepatitis C transmission by always using your own sterile needles and syringes and not sharing anything used in the injecting process such as alcohol swabs, spoons, tourniquets, vials (the bottles or bladders that some steroids come in).
People often inject together and help each other to inject. If you are helping someone it is important to remember that your hands can have blood on them that you can’t see. Wear gloves or work out ways to help that mean you don’t touch anything the other person is using to inject.
Sterile injecting equipment is available through Needle and Syringe Programs (NSPs) found across NSW. This may include community health centres, peer operated services, Aboriginal Medical Services and more. These are outlets that can also provide education, counselling and referral services.