Hepatitis B and C are viruses that are spread through blood-to-blood contact or body fluids (semen or vaginal fluid).
Infection or spread can occur in 3 main ways:
1. Mother-to-child, particularly at the time of birth
In countries where there is high burden of Hepatitis B (China,Southeast Asia, sub-SaharanAfrica), the virus spreads in families in this way.
Hepatitis C can also spread in this way, but it is less common.
2. Unprotected sex
Both hepatitis B and C can spread through this route.
3. Contaminated equipment or products that are injected into the body
Equipment includes needles used to share drugs, perform piercings and apply tattoos, or instruments used for medical, dental or surgical procedures.
Products include blood transfusion or organ transplant in theUKbefore 1991, or blood products/organs in countries where the supply is unsafe.
Contaminated equipment is a common way that Hepatitis C spreads in developing countries.
If you were exposed to contaminated blood or body fluids in any of these ways, you are at risk of Hepatitis B or C, even if you were exposed only once.
Hepatitis B or C are not spread through coughing, sneezing or saliva. You cannot catch these viruses from social contact such as sharing a meal, holding hands, hugging or kissing.
If you are worried about Hepatitis, you can order a postal fingerpick test for Hepatitis B and C using our postal testing service, TakeATestUK.