Can The Hepatitis C Virus Survive Outside the Body?

  • Medical Author:
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

  • Medical Editor: Dennis Lee, MD
    Dennis Lee, MD

    Dennis Lee, MD

    Dr. Lee was born in Shanghai, China, and received his college and medical training in the United States. He is fluent in English and three Chinese dialects. He graduated with chemistry departmental honors from Harvey Mudd College. He was appointed president of AOA society at UCLA School of Medicine. He underwent internal medicine residency and gastroenterology fellowship training at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.

Ask the experts

Is it correct that the hepatitis C virus cannot survive for more than two hours outside the human body?

Doctor's response

The hepatitis C virus is transmitted from person to person primarily, though not exclusively, in blood products, and most commonly, by the transfer of blood between intravenous drug abusers who share needles. In blood--inside or out of the body--the virus can live for weeks, months, and even years. That is why hepatitis C was a problem related to blood transfusion until tests were developed to diagnose its presence in blood so that persons or units of blood for transfusion that were infected with the virus could be detected.

Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care


"Overview of the management of chronic hepatitis C virus infection"

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Last Editorial Review: 6/15/2017