Hepatitis C is transmitted through blood when the blood of an infected individual enters the bloodstream of an uninfected individual. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hepatitis C can be spread by sexual contact, sharing needles and syringes, and less often through piercing or tattooing.
Additionally, the World Health Organization states that early diagnosis of the Hepatitis C virus, or HCV, is rare because acute infection does not present symptoms. Testing for fibrosis and cirrhosis in the liver by performing a liver biopsy is recommended for individuals diagnosed with HCV. According to the American Liver Foundation, since there is no vaccine for Hepatitis C, individuals can prevent contraction of the virus by using sterilized body piercing and tattooing equipment and not sharing injection equipment.
About 3.2 million Americans have chronic HCV, states the CDC. In addition, statistics show that out of every 100 people with the virus, one to five people will die from cirrhosis or liver cancer. Medications are available for the treatment of chronic HCV. According to WHO, a combination of antiviral therapy and interferon and ribavirin is the current standard of treatment. Treatment is not always necessary since some individuals have an immune system that can fight the infection.