Causes and Diagnoses

Causes and Diagnoses of Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is caused by infection with the hepatitis C virus. It is spread through contact with an infected person’s blood.

The virus is commonly spread through unsterilized tattoo and piercing equipment; sharing drug supplies, razors and toothbrushes; accidental needle sticks and unprotected sex with an infected partner.

Preventing the spread of hepatitis C

There are ways to minimize your risk of getting hepatitis C, including:

  • Use a condom every time you have sex.
  • Get tattoos and body piercings only from trusted sources.
  • Don’t share needles and drug supplies.
  • Don’t share toothbrushes or razors.
  • Wear gloves if you have to touch someone else’s blood or wound.

Diagnosing hepatitis C

People who are at risk for developing chronic hepatitis C are encouraged to be screened for the virus with a simple blood test. If the test results are positive, your physician may order:

  • Liver biopsy: A small sample of the liver tissue is removed with a needle for analysis under a microscope.
  • Transient elastography: This test uses ultrasound technology to evaluate the stiffness of the liver tissue.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This uses pulsed radio frequency and magnets to create images used for screening and diagnosis. 

Diagnostic Tests