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Ten Things That Won't Transmit Hepatitis

Stay Hepatitis C Free


Updated February 11, 2009

Ten Things That Won't Transmit Hepatitis

Hepatitis C is not spread by kissing, hugging, or holding hands.

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There is lots of talk about how to prevent exposure to hepatitis C, and with good reason. There are 170 million cases worldwide and nearly 4 million in the United States. But, you can do a lot without worrying about being exposed to hepatitis C virus. Here are 10 activities where you can't catch hepatitis C.

Sharing a Fork, Spoon and Glass

You're at a restaurant and someone at your table offers a taste of their delicious cheesecake. Should you politely pass? Well, not if you're worried about catching hepatitis C. Go ahead and taste that dessert because sharing eating utensils doesn't spread the virus. Also, have a sip of their water, too. Remember, spreading hepatitis C requires direct contact with infected blood, not saliva.

Giving (and Getting) a Kiss

Kissing isn't a known way to spread hepatitis C virus. This is because saliva isn't an effective way to spread the virus. While some sources suggest otherwise, kissing isn't high-risk for hepatitis C.

Hugging a Friend

Casual contact is not a high risk way to spread hepatitis C because you don't come into direct contact with infected blood. So never let fear of hepatitis C keep you from hugging a friend. This goes for all types of casual contact: It's all low-risk.

Holding Hands

Hepatitis A is frequently spread through hand to hand contact and is prevented by good handwashing practice. However, hepatitis C isn't spread this way. So, go ahead and take that long walk, hand in hand.

Getting a Tattoo and Piercing

Getting a tattoo and piercing should be safe if you go to a proper studio that follows correct infection control and hygiene. It's the unregulated places or amateur artists that probably present the greatest risk.

Being Around Someone Coughing and Sneezing

Being close by while someone is coughing and sneezing may give you a cold or other respiratory disease, but it won't give you hepatitis C. This is because coughing and sneezing doesn't have direct blood to blood contact. Getting coughed or sneezed on is gross, but it won't give you hepatitis C.

Eating Food and Water

Some hepatitis viruses are spread through food and water, but not hepatitis C. Hepatitis A is notorious for spreading through shellfish, dirty water and the fruits and vegetables washed with it.

Practicing Safe Sex

Hepatitis C can be spread through sexual contact, especially rough sex (when the skin is at risk of being cut or scratched), but this is a very low risk. By practicing safer sex and wearing a condom properly, the risk of catching hepatitis C from sexual activity should be very low.

Taking a Nature Walk

Some people think since mosquitoes can transmit malaria and yellow fever, they could probably spread HIV and hepatitis C. But mosquitoes can't spread blood-borne diseases. So go ahead and take that nature walk.

Nursing a Baby

Obviously, this one is for the women only. While there is a very slight risk of spreading hepatitis C from a pregnant woman to the baby, breastfeeding does not spread hepatitis C. However, women should hold off when they have cracked or bleeding nipples.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. June 20, 2008. Viral Hepatitis.

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