Viral Hepatitis

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FAQ: Can I become infected with hepatitis C from a family member living in the same house?

for Veterans and the Public

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How likely am I to become infected with hepatitis C from a family member living in the same house?

Household transmission of hepatitis C is extremely rare. Fewer than 1 in 1,000 family members or close acquaintances becomes infected each year through common, nonsexual contact with hepatitis C-infected persons.

There are many possible ways by which hepatitis C could be passed from one person to another. Because the virus is carried in the blood, it could be transmitted between household members if a mucous membrane (for example, in an eye, the mouth, or the nose) were to come in contact with blood or body fluids containing hepatitis C. Family members sometimes share razors, toothbrushes, or toothpicks, perhaps unknowingly. If an item were contaminated with hepatitis C-infected blood from one person, the virus could be passed to a second person if it were to tear the lining of the mouth or break through the skin.

Although these sorts of possibilities are often discussed as potential ways for hepatitis C to infect family members, such events occur very rarely.

If you aren't sure of your hepatitis C status, have your doctor test you for the hepatitis C antibody. If you test negative and have lived in a household with an infected family member or close acquaintance, you shouldn't worry that any more contact will put you at risk.