Sexual Transmission And Hepatitis C
Although not common, hepatitis C can be transmitted through sexual activity. Having a sexually transmitted infection, having sex with multiple partners, and engaging in anal sex appear to increase a persons risk for hepatitis C. MSM with multiple sex partners who are coinfected with HCV and HIV have been shown to transmit hepatitis C. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C. The best way to prevent hepatitis C is by avoiding behaviors that can spread the disease, especially sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. CDC recommends one-time hepatitis C testing of all adults and regular testing for people with risk factors. The American Association for the Study of Liver Disease and the Infectious Diseases Society of America also recommend that people who are infected with HCV be provided with curative, direct-acting antiviral medicationsexternal icon to treat their HCV infection.
Sexual Transmission And Viral Hepatitis
Certain adults who are sexually active should be vaccinated against hepatitis B.
CDC and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommend hepatitis B vaccination for
- sexually active people with more than one sex partner during the previous 6 months
- people seeking evaluation or treatment for a sexually transmitted disease
- sex partners of people with hepatitis B and
- men who have sex with men .
Which Hepatitis Is An Std
Hepatitis A, B, and C can be sexually transmitted.
- Hepatitis A: Although the fecal-oral route is common for hepatitis A, the virus can also be transmitted from any sexual activity. The use of condoms does not effectively prevent the spread of hepatitis A.
- Hepatitis B: Sexual contact is the most common mode of Hepatitis B transmission in the United States. Compared to HIV, a hepatitis B infection is 50 to 100 times more likely to be transmitted sexually. The transmission risk is higher among unvaccinated people with risk behaviors like having multiple sex partners and men having sex with men .
- Hepatitis C: The Hepatitis C virus may be transmitted via sexual contact. However, studies have shown that such transmission is very rare. A higher rate of sexual transmission of the hepatitis C infection is seen in MSM, especially those who practice unprotected anal intercourse and have an infection with the human immunodeficiency virus .
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Dendritic Cells In Sexual Transmission Of Hcv
Molecular mechanisms of HCV transmission
Submucosal DCs capture HCV and migrate into the lymphoid tissues to transmit HCV to PBMCs which might lead to further dissemination HCV to the liver. Mucosal LCs capture HCV after immune activation by STIs and either retain HCV in the tissue which could increase the chance of virus to egress into the bloodstream and disseminate to the liver or migrate into the lymphoid tissues thereby allowing HCV dissemination to the liver. DCSIGN, dendritic cellspecific ICAMgrabbing nonintegrin HCV, Hepatitis C virus HIV1, Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 PBMC, peripheral blood mononuclear cells STI, Sexual transmitted infections.
How Can Hepatitis Be Transmitted
Hepatitis is an unconventional STD in many ways. For one, many people dont think of hepatitis as a sexually transmitted disease. After all, hepatitis is a liver inflammation that can be caused by heavy alcohol and drug use, or ingesting contaminated food not just sexual activity. Additionally, more often than not, people tend to overlook hepatitis when discussing STDs. Nevertheless, several viral strains of hepatitis pose a serious threat to sexually active individuals. How can hepatitis be transmitted? The answers might surprise you:
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How Are Hepatitis B And Hepatitis C Spread From Person To Person
Like HIV, the hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses spread:
- From mother to child: Pregnant women can pass these infections to their infants. HIV-HCV coinfection increases the risk of passing on hepatitis C to the baby.
- Sexually: Both viruses can also be transmitted sexually, but HBV is much more likely than HCV to be transmitted sexually. Sexual transmission of HCV is most likely to happen among gay and bisexual men who are living with HIV.
Building Healthy Sexual Relationships
Rule number one for a healthy sexual relationship: Be open and honest with your partners. I believe in transparency, says Talal. This conversation can be difficult, but its important to have. Part of discussing your status is talking about what exposure you may have had to hepatitis C, even in the distant past.
Its a good opportunity for you both to share your sexual history, as well as your experiences with other ways hepatitis C can be transmitted, such as using injection drugs or being exposed to items that may have blood on them, including needles, razors, and toothbrushes.
Sherman explains that even if you consistently use condoms during sex, other activities, such as sharing needles to inject drugs or sharing straws to snort them, increase your risk of spreading hepatitis C. People do not want to hear about this, he says. Its difficult to get the word out about risk.
If you and your partner find that hepatitis C is disrupting your relationship or your sex life, you might also consider working with a marriage and family therapist or a sex therapist.
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Tips For Safe Sex With Hepatitis
When its time, find a private place where you can talk to your partner without interruption.
How It’s Passed On
The hepatitis C virus is found in blood and is passed on when infected blood gets into another persons bloodstream. Its seen as unlikely that it can be passed on in semen.
Most people get the virus from sharing drug injecting equipment such as needles, syringes, water cups, tourniquets, spoons, filters and swabs. Sharing things like straws and banknotes that are used for snorting drugs might pass the virus on, as can sharing pipes.
In the UK piercing and tattooing should be safe but unsterilised equipment abroad can spread the virus.
An infected person risks infecting others if they share anything that might have blood on it like a toothbrush or razor. A pregnant woman with the virus can give it to her baby during pregnancy or childbirth.
Blood transfusions in the UK are safe as blood is screened.
You can also potentially get it from medical or dental treatment abroad in countries where hepatitis C is common and infection control is inadequate.
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What Is The Treatment For Hepatitis
Each type of hepatitis is treated differently.
Hepatitis A often goes away on its own and home treatment is all that is needed to help the liver recover, such as:
- Avoiding alcohol
- Avoiding certain medicines that can be harmful to the liver
Hepatitis B often goes away on its own in about 6 months, and can also be treated at home with the above remedies. Other treatments for hepatitis B include:
- Antiviral medications
- Liver transplant in severe cases
Treatment for hepatitis C is effective on certain forms of the hepatitis C virus. The choice of medications depends on the type of hepatitis C you have, whether you have been treated for the illness before, how much liver damage has occurred, any other underlying medical issues, and other medicines you take. Treatment for hepatitis C usually involves 8 to 12 weeks of oral antiviral medications, such as:
Contaminated Needles And Infected Blood
You can get hepatitis C from sharing contaminated needles, syringes and other injecting equipment during recreational drug use. Banknotes and straws used for snorting may also pass the virus on.
Being exposed to unsterilised tattoo and body piercing equipment can also pass hepatitis C on. Occasionally, you can get it from sharing a towel, razor blades or a toothbrush if there is infected blood on them.
Hepatitis C infection is also passed on in healthcare settings, from needle stick injuries or from medical and dental equipment that has not been properly sterilised. In countries where blood products are not routinely screened, you can also get hepatitis C by receiving a transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products.
You can prevent hepatitis C by:
- never sharing needles and syringes or other items that may be contaminated with infected blood
- only having tattoos, body piercings or acupuncture in a professional setting, where new, sterile needles are used
- following the standard infection control precautions, if youre working in a healthcare setting.
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What Other Ways Can Hepatitis B Be Transmitted
It is possible, but less common, for hepatitis B to spread in other ways. But HBV transmission still involves contact with infected blood or other bodily fluids.
People can catch B from:
Exposure to open wounds or blood including direct contact and needlestick injuries
Personal items that may exposure you to infected blood, such as razors or toothbrushes
Sharing needles, syringes, or other IV drug paraphernalia
Babies are at risk when they are born to infected mothers. Healthcare providers and patients are also at risk due to potential exposure to infected blood. The vaccine and HBIG can also protect these people if a potential exposure occurs.
What Are The Odds Of Contracting Hep C Sexually
The odds are pretty low. But your risk level depends on your situation.
One 2012 study on 500 straight, monogamous couples found that the rate of hep C transmission through sex was just 0.07 percent per year.
The CDC and WHO both point out that men who have sex with other men may have a higher risk of contracting hep C, but neither have exact data on the odds.
Basically, if you have anal or rough sex, sex with people who use or misuse intravenous substances, or if you have multiple partners, your chances of contracting hep C may go up. The chances are still low, but with all the other STIs out there, its a good idea to have sex with a barrier method.
Epidemiology Of Sexually Transmitted Hcv
2.1.1. Trends in HCV infections in HIVpositive and negative MSM
2.1.2. Molecular epidemiology
Molecular epidemiology is increasingly used to identify clusters and transmission pathways in rapidly evolving pathogens such as HIV and HCV. The main aim of these molecular approaches was to aid the public health response by identifying factors of the epidemic, such as hotspots or emerging clusters, otherwise missed.
2.1.3. Risk factors for acquiring sexually transmitted HCV
Finally, studies consistently show that biological factors might play a role: confection with STI, HIV1 infection in itself, a lower CD4 cell count and higher HIV RNA levels are associated with an increased risk of incident HCV infection , , , . These factors might affect the mucosal microenvironment and activate specific immune cells within mucosal tissues, which would allow HCV entry and retention.
How Hbv Is Spread
It is possible for the hepatitis B virus to be spread through the bodily fluids of an infected person, which is to say that the virus can be transmitted through the blood, sweat, tears, saliva, semen, vaginal secretions, menstrual blood, and breast milk of an infected person. That said, having hepatitis B does not necessarily mean that you are infectious only some people with HBV are actually contagious.
Opportunities for exposure can include sharing a syringe or getting tattoos or body piercings with infected tools. But it also means that it is possible to be exposed during childbirth as well as sexual contact and intercourse. In fact, nearly two-thirds of acute cases of hepatitis B in the United States are caused by sexual exposure.
Though HBV can be spread through blood, there is generally very little risk of contracting the virus through blood transfusions as most countries began screening for it by 1975.
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Hepatitis Testing And Treatment
The good news for sexually active individuals in regard to hepatitis is that its possible to protect both yourself and your partner through simple means. Getting vaccinated for hepatitis A, B, and D will greatly lower the risks associated with spreading hepatitis through sexual contact. Furthermore, seeking out regular STD tests particularly when you begin seeing a new partner can help you stay on top of your sexual wellness and mitigate the effects of many STD-related issues.
How Hcv Is Spread
The hepatitis C virus is transmitted primarily through blood to blood contact, meaning that a person can become infected with the virus should the blood of a person who carries the virus be introduced into another person’s bloodstream.
Therefore, as with hepatitis B, blood transfusions , tattooing and body piercing, occupational exposure, medical procedures, and intravenous drug use can all lead to possible exposure to the virus. Unlike hepatitis B, however, sexual contact and childbirth have both been shown to be an inefficient route of exposure to HCV.
The hepatitis G virus is thought to be transmitted in a similar way to HCV.
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Hiv And Hepatitis B And Hepatitis C Coinfection
Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are liver infections caused by a virus. Because these infections can be spread in the same ways as HIV, people with HIV in the United States are often also affected by chronic viral hepatitis.
Viral hepatitis progresses faster and causes more liver-related health problems among people with HIV than among those who do not have HIV. Liver disease, much of which is related to HBV or HCV, is a major cause of non-AIDS-related deaths among people with HIV.
Given the risks of hepatitis B or hepatitis C coinfection to the health of people living with HIV, it is important to understand these risks, take steps to prevent infection, know your status, and, if necessary, get medical care from someone who is experienced in treating people who are coinfected with HIV and HBV, or HIV and HCV.
Tips For Preventing Transmission Through Sex
If youre sexually active with a person who has hepatitis C, there are ways that you can prevent contracting the virus. Likewise, if you have the virus, you can avoid infecting others.
A few steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of sexual transmission include:
- using a condom during every sexual contact, including oral sex
- learning to use all barrier devices correctly to prevent ripping or tearing during intercourse
- resisting engaging in sexual contact when either partner has an open cut or wound in their genitals
- being tested for STIs and asking sexual partners to be tested too
- practicing sexual monogamy
- using extra precautions if youre HIV-positive, as your chance of contracting HCV is much higher if you have HIV
If you have hepatitis C, you should be honest with all sexual partners about your status. This ensures that youre both taking the proper precautions to prevent transmission.
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Could I Give It To Other People
Yes. As long as you carry the virus, you can infect others. You may pass it on to your sex partner, to those who live in close contact with you, and to those who share your needles for injecting drugs. All of these contacts should be examined by a doctor. If they are not yet infected, they should be vaccinated.
Pregnant women who are carriers may pass hepatitis B on to their babies around the time of birth. Most infected infants become carriers. A pregnant woman should have a test for hepatitis B at her first visit to a doctor. If she is a carrier, the infant can be vaccinated at birth to protect against infection.
Hepatitis C And Safe Sex
As with hepatitis B, the time to tell any sexual partner about your diagnosis is before you have sex or if you have already had sex, before you have sex again. Again, if you are having sex you need to use condoms and avoid risky sexual activity.
“In patients with hepatitis C in stable monogamous relationships, the rate of transmission appears to be in the range of 2 to 4 percent per year,” says Fallon.
Even though the chance of transmitting hepatitis C is lower if you are having sex with only one partner, you still need to be responsible and cautious. “Since there is no effective vaccine prevention is of particular importance in this group,” warns Fallon. Using condoms will decrease the risk of transmitting your hepatitis C infection to your partner.
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