Having a baby? Get tested for Hep C.
If you are planning to have a baby, getting tested for Hep C before becoming pregnant is the best option. If you are already pregnant, the American Academy of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends that all pregnant people should be tested for Hep C during each pregnancy, regardless of risk.
Q: What is Hep C?
A: Hep C is a virus that can cause serious health problems, like liver cancer, liver failure and death. Hep C is spread when the blood of someone who has Hep C enters the body of someone who does not have the virus, through:
- injecting drugs, even once.
- tattoos or body piercings from an unlicensed tattoo artist or piercer.
The risk of getting Hep C from sex is low. The risk increases if you:
- have sex with many people;
- have a sexually transmitted disease (STD);
- have rough sex; or
- if you have HIV.
Hep C is not passed through casual contact such as kissing, hugging, touching, or sharing food.
Q: What are the symptoms to look for?
A: Hep C progresses slowly and often has no symptoms. Most people with Hep C don’t know they have it. That is why it is important to get tested at least once over the age of 18, and during each pregnancy.
Q: How do I get tested for Hep C?
A: Hep C testing is a two-step process. Your health care provider may run both tests in one blood draw. Step one is an antibody test and step two is an RNA test.
Q: If I test positive for Hep C while pregnant, will I pass it on to my baby?
A: About 6 in 100 infants born to mothers with Hep C become infected with the Hep C virus. The risk of transmission is higher if the mother is also HIV positive.
Q: Can I breastfeed with Hep C?
A: Yes you can safely breastfeed your baby if you have Hep C. However, breastfeeding is not recommended if you also have HIV.
Q: Is Hep C curable?
A: Yes! Treatment is easy to take. Most people have few-to-no side effects. Treatment during pregnancy is not currently recommended. It is best for people with Hep C to be treated before becoming pregnant.