People who have ever had blood transfusions or blood products before screening
was introduced (1990), and people who have ever shared injecting
equipment for drugs should be tested for the hepatitis C virus. Other
people who should consider having the test done are those who have been
tattooed, had body piercing or a needlestick injury. Healthcare workers
who perform “exposure prone procedures” should also be tested.
People with abnormal liver function tests with no apparent cause would also benefit from having a hepatitis C antibody test. However, because of the historical inadequacy of sterilisation procedures in dentistry and in the health and beauty industry, we (HepCBC) recommend that anyone who has had extensive dental procedures where blood was present, or who has had manicures or pedicures be tested as well. Recent studies (2000) show that persons undergoing hemodialysis are still at risk, as are many cured cancer patients.
Hepatitis C currently causes between 150,000 and 250,000 new cases of chronic infection in the United States each year. Hemophiliacs and intravenous drug users are at the greatest risk, but anyone, of any status or age, and in any walk of life, is at risk for acquiring the hepatitis C virus. Researchers have found that many people infected with hepatitis C don’t even know it. From 20 to 40 percent of patients in inner-city hospitals are infected, as are 80 percent of intravenous drug users.