The hepatitis B virus (HBV) is transmitted between people through contact with the blood or other body fluids (i.e. saliva, semen and vaginal fluid) of an infected person. Please note that it is very unlikely it can be contracted through kissing or sharing cutlery. The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is spread through direct contact with infected blood. Very rarely it may be passed on through other body fluids. Most common routes of transmission for hepatitis B or C viruses are the following: • Blood transfusions and blood products using unscreened blood (in most countries, but not all, blood has been screened since about 1990) • Medical or dental interventions without
adequate sterilization of equipment • Mother to infant during childbirth • Sharing equipment for injecting drugs • Sharing straws, notes etc. for snorting cocaine • Sharing razors, toothbrushes or
other household articles • Tattooing and body piercing if done
using unsterilized equipment In the case of hepatitis B, infection can also occur through having unprotected sex with an infected person. If you think you could have been at risk from either hepatitis B or C, it is important to get tested. Getting immunized is the best way of preventing hepatitis B infection. More than one billion doses of the hepatitis B vaccine have been used since the early 1980s and it has been shown to be effective in approximately 95% of cases. There is currently no vaccine for hepatitis C.