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Viral Hepatitis

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FAQ: Can I get reinfected with hepatitis C?

for Veterans and the Public

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I get reinfected with hepatitis C?

If you become infected with hepatitis C infection and then clear the virus (either by successful treatment or by spontaneously clearing it on your own, early after infection), yes, it is possible for you to become infected again.

The chance of another infection with hepatitis C (called "reinfection") is much, much less than the chance of a first-time infection, but it is not impossible. It has happened in people who continue to use injection drugs, and some studies suggest that it happens even more often in people who are also HIV positive.

In other words, having had hepatitis C once does not make you "immune" from getting hepatitis C again.

The best way to avoid reinfection is to reduce risky behaviors that can result in exposure to the hepatitis C virus: Do not use injection drugs, do not share needles for any reason, avoid blood-to-blood exposures with others, and use condoms if you are sexually active with a new partner or with a partner who has used injection drugs.

The research in this area is ongoing, and we will continue to learn more about this very important topic. But for now, preventing re-exposure to the hepatitis C virus is the only sure way of avoiding infection and reinfection with hepatitis C.