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Hepatitis C and Pregnancy

by Alexa Styliadis

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?
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?
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?
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?
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.

Get free Hep C testing at Trillium Health by calling us at 585.545.7200 to make an appointment or clicking the button below. Learn more about our Hepatitis C Center of Excellence here.