The Northern Healthy Connections Society provides a multitude of resources and awareness material related to Hepatitis C, a common infection among people who inject, snort or inhale substances.
What is Hep C?
Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes the liver to become inflamed, which can lead to serious liver damage. The infection spreads when contaminated blood enters the bloodstream of an uninfected person.
Some people who have contracted acute Hep C won’t experience symptoms at all. However, asymptomatic does not mean it can’t still be transmitted to another person.
Early Signs of Hep C Infection:
- Loss of appetite
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
- Dark-coloured urine
- Joint or muscle pain
Who’s At Risk?
Anybody can contract Hep C if they are exposed to contaminated blood.
High-risk individuals can include:
- Healthcare workers (nurses, home-care workers)
People who work in healthcare can be exposed to contaminated blood, such as an accidental needle prick.
- People who get piercings/tattoos
Unclean tattoo or piercing shops can expose clients to Hep C through contaminated equipment. Always do your research beforehand.
- People with substance-use disorders who share equipment
Hep C can be transmitted through shared needles. It can also spread through tiny cuts in the mouth and throat. Try to avoid sharing pipes and mouth-pieces.
- Children born to mothers who have Hep C
Pregnant women who have Hep C can pass it on to their unborn child.
Hep C is treatable and curable. A simple blood test can detect whether you have contracted the virus.
If you are concerned about a possible exposure to Hep C, talk to your doctor or make an appointment at your local walk-in clinic. If you need assistance in making an appointment (access to a phone/computer, unsure what to ask for etc) please contact NHCS and ask for Support Coordinator Alana Weatherbee (she/her.)