Hepatitis C is typically contracted when the blood from a person with the hepatitis C virus enters the body of another, uninfected person, according to the CDC. Most people contract the virus by sharing needles or equipment used to inject drugs.
The most common way to get hepatitis C is to share syringes or needles with an infected person, to sustain a needle stick injury in a healthcare setting or to be born from a mother who currently has the virus, according to the CDC. Less common ways to contract the virus include sharing personal care items with someone who has the virus, such as a razor or toothbrush. Having sex with a person who has hepatitis C can also spread the virus, although the risk is low.
The hepatitis C virus is not spread by breastfeeding, sharing eating utensils, holding hands, kissing or hugging, according to the CDC. The virus is also not spread through coughing or sneezing or through food and water.
Certain individuals are more likely to getting hepatitis C, including current and past drug users, people with tattoos and body piercings, and healthcare workers, notes the CDC. People who have received donated blood and people with organs from a donor with hepatitis C are at risk as well.