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Hepatitis C question
Jan 28, 2007

Hi I would be very grateful if you would answer a couple of questions for me. I have had OCD for some years and it has centred around a fear of contracting HIV or Hepatitis C. I am receiving treatment for OCD but and am no longer so worried about HIV. However, I still do worry a lot about Hep C. I found that knowledge of how HIV is or is not passed on helped me a great deal. For example, knowing that the virus does not live long outside the body. However, I am having problems overcoming my fear of contracting Hepatitis C because all the information I have found states that the virus can live a long time outside the body and also that a small (even invisible) amount is enough to cause infection (for example advice is given not to share toothbrushes even if no visible blood can be seen). My main worry is that I will contract Hep c through the open eczema that I have on my hands. I am not longer afraid if catching HIV in this way because I know that a reasonable amount of very fresh blood would need to get into the eczema. However, it seems that even an old and invisible amount of blood on a surface could be enough to infect with Hep C. I am therefore very worried whenever I see a red stain on a surface. Also (this is pretty gross, sorry!) I am very tall and find that when using a urinal the added height causes urine to splash back onto my legs. I have occasionally seen blood stains in public urinals and have worried that even tiny amounts of blood splashed onto me could later be transferred to my hands. Again, HIV would not worry me any longer in this situation, but Hepatitis C, if it really does last so long and is infectious in such tiny amounts, continues to worry me. What are your views? Is this worry really as silly as it sounds, or is infection of this type possible in an open wound or bleeding eczema? I am sorry that this has been such a long series of questions. I hope that you can help because I cannot see any other way of defeating my OCD until I know if the worries are unfounded. Thank you so much for your help, Adam

Response from Dr. McGovern

You certainly have insight into your medical problem of OCD and you recognize that information and education is helpful.

I would have to say that the risk of getting hepatitis C is mainly through injection drug use. Sexual transmission is uncommon. Any other routes are distinctly rare. For example, I only know of one case where hepatitis C was transmitted through a bloody altercation with lots of blood exposure of both patients.

I consider you to be without risk.



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