If you have ever shared drug injecting equipment, or been involved in activities where there may have been blood to blood contact then you may have acquired, or be at risk of acquiring, the hep C virus.
In Australia the most common way for hep C to be passed on is when people share equipment that is used to inject drugs; whether you do so regularly or only every now and then. This might mean recreational drugs or performance-enhancing drugs. You might have injected drugs once or on only a few occasions, many years ago; this could still have been enough to contract hep C.
Hep C can also be passed on when the equipment used to tattoo or piercing is not sterile. This is more likely if the person doing the tattooing or piercing has not been trained in infection control procedures or doing backyard/garage/home jobs.
To find out if you have hep C you may need to have two different blood tests.
The first test is called the Hep C Antibody Test. This test shows if you have ever been exposed to the hep C virus. A Hep C Antibody Test does not show whether you are living with hep C because it only looks for the antibodies your body would produce once you have been exposed to the hep C virus.
The second test is called a PCR Detection Test. If your Hep C Antibody Test result is positive, you will need to have a second test to know if you are living with hep C or if your body has cleared the virus. A PCR Detection Test will show whether the hep C virus is in your blood. If your PCR Detection Test result is positive the hep C virus has been detected and you are living with hep C. If you have had the virus for more than six months this means you have chronic, or life-long, hep C. There are new effective treatments that can cure chronic hep C.