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Snorting cocaine and Hep c risk

Oct 9, 2011

The other night I did something really stupid and had a line of cocaine at a house party, but used my own straw. The only thing is that I am starting to think that maybe the bread knife I used to cut the straw might have had blood on it (not that I noticed anything). For instance, say if, hypothetically, somebody cut himself or herself beforehand and then (even after washing the knife with standard washing up liquid) the knife still managed to scrape tiny or microscopic traces of blood onto the straw. I know, it sounds irrational but how does one rationalize this? I feel completely paralyzed (stuck between the rational and irrational). I mean, am I over thinking this? Have I really put myself at risk for Hepatitis C? I would really appreciate a second opinion. God bless. I have read that Hepatitis C can only be infectious (outside the body) between 16 hours and 4 days.

I am not concerned about HIV or Hepatitis A and B because 1) I can account that the knife was not used 4 to 5 hours before, allowing enough time for any HIV virus to die 2) I have been vaccinated against hepatitis A and B.

Response from Dr. Fawcett

Thanks for writing. I think you are in the grip of anxiety over having used cocaine. As I understand it, you didn't notice anything on the knife but are imagining what your risk might be if there were dried blood on it. Hepatitis C is not spread by sharing utensils or other household items - it is transmitted by direct through-the-skin exposure to blood. You are correct that the virus can live outside the body but that is significantly reduced if the blood is dry.

Were there an actual exposure you could expect symptoms to develop within six to seven weeks. At that point your physician would do a liver function panel followed, depending on the results, by other tests for antibodies and then the virus itself. I wouldn't spend a lot of energy worrying about Hep C but I would look in to harm reduction methods if you're going to use recreational drugs. You can find good information at the Harm Reduction Coalition.

Take care,


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