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Mom Infected - Can I Get Hepatitis C From Using Her Razor?

Published: 17 December 2002
Dear TeenHealthFX,
I think my Mom was diagnosed with Hepatitis C. I once used her razor. What are the chances that I have contracted Hepatitis? Is there anything that you can tell me about this disease?
Signed: Mom Infected - Can I Get Hepatitis C From Using Her Razor?

Dear Mom Infected - Can I Get Hepatitis C From Using Her Razor?,

 

You wrote you "think" your Mom was diagnosed with the hepatitis C - you should find out for sure because that is very serious. The hepatitis C virus (HCV) attacks and damages the liver. It is considered the most common blood borne infection in the United States and, if untreated, can lead to very serious complications.

There are many risks for acquiring HCV. One risk is sharing an infected person's razor, toothbrush, or anything else that may have blood on it.

 

Other risks include:

  • injecting illegal drugs
  • receiving organs from donors whose blood contained HCV
  • getting stuck with a needle that has infected blood on it
  • frequently being exposed to blood products
  • "snorting" cocaine using shared equipment
  • getting a tattoo or body piercing with non-sterile instruments that were used on someone infected with HCV
  • engaging in high-risk sexual behavior, such as having multiple partners or failing to use condoms.
  • HCV cannot be acquired through casual contact with an infected person, such as shaking hands, hugging, or even kissing. It is also not spread by sneezing, coughing or sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses.

    Once the Hepatitis C virus enters the body, it can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months for the infection to develop and cause the first signs or symptoms to appear. More than half of the people infected with HCV have no symptoms, or sometimes it can take years (10 or more) for the symptoms to show up. The most common signs and symptoms are:

    • Constant tiredness
    • Sore muscles
    • Headaches
    • Abdominal pain (especially in the right upper area)
    • Nausea
    • Dark urine or clay colored stools
    • Loss of appetite or weight loss

    HCV can be diagnosed by a blood test. If undiagnosed, it can lead to serious complications, like cirrhosis (irreversible and potentially fatal liver scarring), liver cancer or liver failure. Currently, there is no vaccine or other means of preventing hepatitis C infection.

    There are medication treatments available, and doctors usually prescribe a combination of drug therapies for the most effective treatment. Approximately 25% of patients diagnosed with acute HCV recover completely with treatment. But according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the other estimated 75 percent will progress eventually to the long-term, or chronic, form of the disease.

    HCV is obviously a very serious disease. For more information, you can visit the Hepatitis C Fact Sheet at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/hepatitis/c/fact.htm.  However, you should also talk to your Mom immediately about it, and your family doctor. If you live in Northern New Jersey, you can also contact the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health in Morristown, New Jersey at 973.971.6475.

    Signed: TeenHealthFX

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