Happy Pride!The hepatitis c virus (HCV) is a bloodborne disease, meaning that those who inject with needles on a regular basis are at particularly high risk. But if you're someone who uses injection drugs, the extent of advice you've received on how to protect yourself from a chronic hepatitis c infection may have just been 'Stop using drugs.'

While it's certainly true that the best way to avoid HCV is to abstain from drug use altogether, we also know that for many people this isn't realistic. That's why harm reduction is so important. Harm reduction is all about reducing the risks associated with drug use without necessarily requiring abstinence.

At HepCMyWay, we believe that everyone deserves access to HCV treatment, regardless of their lifestyle or drug use. That's why we offer online treatment for chronic hepatitis c, making it more accessible for those who may not be able to or want to seek traditional medical care.

If you are someone who uses drugs, here are some important facts and harm reduction strategies you can employ to reduce your risk of HCV:

How Does Chronic Hepatitis C Get Transmitted?

HCV infections are always transmitted through contact with infected blood. If you come into contact with the blood of someone who has HCV, a chronic HCV infection can enter the body through cuts or scrapes in the skin, which is why it's so important to never share drug injection equipment. Even if you can't see any blood, there may still be enough present to transmit the virus.

While drug users are most at risk of HCV transmission through the sharing of contaminated needles, it can also be spread through other blood-to-blood contact, such as sharing straws to snort drugs or razors to shave.

While sexually-transmitted infections of HCV are relatively rare, it is possible to contract HCV through sexual contact, particularly if there are open wounds or sores present.

How Does Injection Drug Use Put Me At Risk?

Injection drug use is one of the most common risk factors for HCV infection. In fact, it's the most common method of HCV transmission(opens in a new tab), accounting for approximately 80% of all new HCV infections in the United States.

When sharing needles or any other equipment to inject drugs, there is a risk that tiny amounts of blood will be transferred from one person to another. If even a small amount of blood from an HCV-infected person enters the bloodstream, it can cause a chronic infection.

What Are Some Harm Reduction Strategies I Can Employ?

There are a number of harm reduction strategies that can reduce your risk of HCV transmission:

  • 1. Never share drug injection equipment.

    This includes needles, syringes, cookers, cottons, or water. It's also important to never share straws to snort drugs or razors to shave, as these can also transmit HCV.

  • 2. If you do share equipment, clean it thoroughly first.

    If you must share drug injection equipment, it's important to clean it thoroughly beforehand. Needles and syringes can be cleaned with bleach. Cookers, cottons, and water should be boiled for at least one minute.

  • 3. Use new needles and syringes every time you inject.

    If you can't clean the equipment properly, it's best to use new needles and syringes every time you inject. Many communities have needle exchange programs where you can get new needles and syringes for free.

  • 4. Use condoms during sex.

    While HCV is not typically spread through sexual contact, using condoms can reduce the risk of hepatitis c transmission if there are open wounds or sores present.

  • 5. Get tested for HCV.

    If you are a drug user, it's important to get tested for HCV at least once a year. The earlier you catch a hepatitis c virus infection, the fewer complications you'll have as you begin treatment.

What Should I Do If I Get Chronic HCV?

If you suspect that you have HCV, get a blood test and determine if you're HCV-positive as soon as possible. If you do receive that positive diagnosis, it can be a scary moment, but it's important to remember that HCV treatment is available. With the advent of new, highly effective antiviral medicines, we can cure hepatitis 100%.

At HepCMyWay, we offer judgment-free online HCV treatment to make the cure accessible to patients throughout Pennsylvania and Ohio. Our program is simple and convenient, and it can be done from the comfort of your own home.

No insurance? No problem. HepCMyWay will treat you regardless of your provider or insurance situation, so you can focus on what's important: getting better.

Ready to be free from Hep C? As the top provider of online Hep C treatment near you, we make receiving the care you need as easy as 1, 2, 3. Get started with HepCMyWay today.