Epidemiology

Although transmitted by blood from an infected person, the mechanism of exposure is not always obvious. Sharing toothbrushes, razors, and towels can be responsible. Tattoos and body piercing with unclean instruments have transmitted the disease. Approximately 60% of transmissions in the United States are due to sharing of syringes by illegal drug abusers. Transmission by sexual intercourse is probably rare, although it apparently can occur among those with multiple partners and sexually transmitted diseases. The risk of contracting the disease from transfusion of a unit of blood is now only about 0.001%.

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