Gay Men Chemsex And Hep C
Group sex and chemsex parties provide the perfect storm for hepatitis C transmission.
If youre taking drugs and having sex for longer your inhibitions are likely to be lowered and the delicate skin lining the anus can be damaged, causing bleeding. Hep C is very infectious and is easily passed on through group sex it can even be passed from one person to another on fingers.
The virus spreads through anal sex and fisting when condoms and gloves are not used. Its also passed on during group sex, on objects such as sex toys, fingers, enema equipment, condoms, latex gloves or in contaminated lubricant.
The iBase guide Safer HCV sex for gay men is a useful reminder of what to avoid and what steps to take to protect yourself.
The Hepatitis C Trust has some useful information about transmission. They also provide an advocacy service for men who have sex with men who have been re-infected with hepatitis C after previously being successfully treated.
How Much Do You Really Know About Sex And Hepatitis B Take This Quiz And Find Out
Its Sexual Health Awareness month and a great time to test your knowledge about how hepatitis B is and isnt spread sexually.
We know hepatitis B is easily transmitted through sex. Its a resilient virus, can live for up to a week on a dry surface and its 50- to 100-times more infectious than HIV. In fact, sexual contact is the most common way hepatitis B is spread in the United States. So lets see how much you know:
Im in my 20s and can safely assume everyone has been vaccinated against hepatitis B, so I dont have to disclose my infection. True or False?
False. New hepatitis B cases have indeed been steadily declining since the vaccine was introduced in the 1980s, but not everyone has been vaccinated. Heres proof. As a result of the heroin epidemic sweeping through rural America, new hepatitis B infections have risen for the first time in decades among 20- and 30-year-olds who were not lucky enough to be immunized during childhood.
Oral sex doesnt transmit hepatitis B. True or False?
An uninfected woman is at higher risk of catching hepatitis B from an infected male partner, than an uninfected man who has sex with an infected woman. True or False?
True. Its not gender but sexual activity that usually defines the infection risk, but in this case an uninfected woman is at very high risk of infection if she has unprotected sex and is on the receiving end of hepatitis B-infected semen.
Kissing can transmit hepatitis B. True or False?
Can You Get Hep C From Recreational Drug Use
The main way hepatitis C is spread is blood-to-blood, says Rena Fox, M.D., a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and an internist and hepatitis specialist at UCSF Health. So any activity where you might come in contact with another persons blood, like sharing needles, puts you at risk.
In fact, sharing needles and syringes is the most common way hepatitis C is spread, says Dr. Fox. We started seeing the number of new cases per year rise again about four or five years ago, along with an increase in heroin use with the opioid epidemic, she says. If people become addicted to prescription opiates, but then lose access to them, she explains, they may turn to heroin which often involves sharing needles.
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What Are The Chances Of Getting Hep C Sexually
Hepatitis C spreads by contact with an infected persons blood. Although uncommon, hepatitis C can be transmitted through sexual activity, if the person has genital sores and cuts. It can also be transmitted during menstruation. However, just 2% of hepatitis C cases are sexually transmitted.
The risk of getting hepatitis C sexually increases in the following situations:
- Men who have sex with men
What Can Explain The Rates Of Sexually Acquired Hepatitis C Infection
There are several theories as to why gbMSM living with HIV are disproportionally affected by the sexual transmission of hepatitis C, in comparison with gbMSM without HIV. Some of the reasons may be related to having HIV. For example, HIV may contribute to a deterioration of the rectal mucous membrane of a person living with HIV, which may make it easier for the hepatitis C virus to pass through during receptive anal sex.6,10 There is also conflicting evidence about whether a low CD4 count may contribute to susceptibility to hepatitis C infection because of a suppressed immune system.6,16
With new, highly effective strategies to prevent HIV, such as PrEP and an undetectable HIV viral load, sexual networks of gbMSM with and without HIV may be overlapping more. Research analyzing strains of hepatitis C virus found that HIV-negative gbMSM taking PrEP have hepatitis C infections with virus strains that circulate in networks of HIV-positive gbMSM.5,16 PrEP is recommended for gbMSM who are considered at risk for HIV, including those who have condomless sex and/or have had an STI.4 These factors may also increase risk for sexual transmission of hepatitis C, which probably helps to explain the higher rates of new hepatitis C infections among gbMSM taking PrEP than among HIV-negative gbMSM who are not taking PrEP.
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Sexual Transmission And Hepatitis A
Transmission of hepatitis A virus can occur from any sexual activity with an infected person and is not limited to fecal-oral contact. People who are sexually active are considered at risk for hepatitis A if they are MSM, live with or are having sex with an infected person, or inject drugs. Vaccination is the most effective means of preventing hepatitis A transmission among people at risk for infection. CDC has published recommendations for prevention of hepatitis A that identify all groups recommended for vaccination, including hepatitis A vaccination for MSM.
How Do You Get Hepatitis C
The hepatitis C virus is usually spread through blood-to-blood contact.
Some ways the infection can be spread include:
- sharing unsterilised needles particularly needles used to inject recreational drugs
- sharing razors or toothbrushes
- from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby
- through unprotected sex although this is very rare
In the UK, most hepatitis C infections happen in people who inject drugs or have injected them in the past.
It’s estimated around half of those who inject drugs have the infection.
Also Check: Treatment To Cure Hepatitis C
If Youve Got Hep C Spitting Can Be A Felony
By Michelle AndrewsJune 19, 2018
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Can I Catch Hep C From Getting A Tattoo
Its possible to get hepatitis C through tattooing and body piercings if the facility is unlicensed and equipment isnt properly sterilized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Its not all that different than the way you can get hep C from sharing unsanitized personal items like glucose monitors, razors, nail clippers, or toothbrushes, which all have the potential of coming in contact with a persons blood. In licensed tattooing facilities though, theres no documented risk of getting hep C.
Read Also: Hepatitis A Vaccine Side Effects Baby
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.
Complications Of Hepatitis C
If the infection is left untreated for many years, some people with hepatitis C will develop scarring of the liver .
Over time, this can cause the liver to stop working properly.
In severe cases, life-threatening problems, such as liver failure, where the liver loses most or all of its functions, or liver cancer, can eventually develop.
Treating hepatitis C as early as possible can help reduce the risk of these problems happening.
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Hcv Transmission During Sex: Is It Possible
Some research suggests that a small percentage of people do contract hep C through blood-to-blood contact that may occur during sexual contact. Thus, transmission of hep C during sex is seen as possible but is believed to be rare.
If hep C is transmitted during sex, it is likely to be through blood-to-blood contact. This emphasises the need for safe sex practices where there is a risk of blood-to-blood contact, e.g. sex when you have cuts or lesions on or close to the genitals, during anal sex , during menstruation, and during sexual practices that may involve bleeding or broken skin.
Some studies suggest a slightly increased rate of hep C transmission in people with multiple sexual partners and high levels of sexual activity. These studies, though, have usually found it difficult to exclude other possible routes of transmission, e.g. injecting drug use.
Research increasingly suggests the risk of transmission of hep C through sexual contact among heterosexual people is minimal.
How Can I Protect Myself And Others
- Never share injecting drug equipment or things that may have blood on them such as toothbrushes and razors. Also avoid sharing straws or rolled up banknotes if snorting drugs with others.
- Use condoms for anal and vaginal sex and latex gloves for fisting.
- During group sex, cover anything which goes from one partner to another with a fresh condom or fresh latex glove for each new person it enters. Clean objects with warm water and anti-bacterial soap before using on a new partner.
- Dont share enema equipment or pots of lubricant.
If you have hepatitis C you may want to tell a partner and explain that youre infectious. They can then decide if they’re happy to take any risks and whether they want to take precautions. That way they cannot accuse you of infecting them without them knowing that the risk was there.
Read Also: Hepatitis B Virus Dna Quantitative
Getting Tested For Hepatitis C
Seek medical advice if you have persistent symptoms of hepatitis C or there’s a risk you’re infected, even if you do not have any symptoms.
A blood test can be carried out to see if you have the infection.
GPs, sexual health clinics, genitourinary medicine clinics or drug treatment services all offer testing for hepatitis C.
Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent or limit any damage to your liver, as well as help ensure the infection is not passed on to other people.
How Is It Treated
To recover, you should eat a well-balanced, low fat diet, and make sure you rest and get some exercise. It is best to avoid alcohol and drugs, as well as sexual contact, until you are better. If you are using any other medicines, check with your doctor that they dont affect your liver.
There are vaccines available for hepatitis A and hepatitis B. These stop you getting the infection if the first place.
There are now some antiviral treatments for hepatitis C, so talk to your doctor about these.
Also Check: What Are The Symptoms Of Hepatitis C Infection
Hepatitis C Symptoms & Treatment
Hepatitis C is found in infected blood. It is also rarely found in semen and vaginal fluids.
Hepatitis C is mainly passed on through using contaminated needles and syringes or sharing other items with infected blood on them. It can also be passed on through unprotected sex, especially when blood is present.
You can prevent hepatitis C by never sharing needles and syringes, practising safer sex, and avoiding unlicensed tattoo parlours and acupuncturists.
Hepatitis C will often not have any noticeable symptoms, but a simple blood test carried out by a healthcare professional will show whether you have hepatitis C.
In the early stages, some peoples bodies can clear a hepatitis C infection on their own, others may develop chronic hepatitis C and will need to take antiviral treatment to cure the infection.
Without treatment, chronic hepatitis C can lead to permanent liver damage.
Hepatitis C is part of a group of hepatitis viruses that attack the liver.
Its mainly passed on through contaminated needles, either from injecting drugs or from needle stick injuries in healthcare settings. It can also be transmitted sexually, especially during anal sex or other types of sex that may involve blood.
Some groups are more at risk of getting hepatitis C than others, including people who use drugs, people in prisons, men who have sex with men, health workers and people living with HIV.
Guidelines For Other Individuals
If youre not in a long-term, monogamous relationship, the risk of giving someone hepatitis C through sex is a bit higher. Be sure to inform any potential sex partners that you have the infection. These steps help reduce your risk of spreading the virus:
Avoid engaging in rough sex.
Get tested for sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.
Limit your number of sex partners.
Skip having sex when either partner has an open sore or cut in the genital area or is menstruating.
- Use a latex condom every time you have sex.
Also Check: How To Test For Hepatitis
Can You Have Hep C And Not Know It
We said this illness is sneaky, and in fact, most people with hepatitis C dont have any symptoms at the time they are diagnosed, says Dr. Goff. That makes it difficult to trace exactly where and when someone contracted the virus. Unfortunately, it also gives the virus time to wreak havoc on the liver before you feel sick enough to seek treatment.
Until we started actively screening the population, patients could be infected with hepatitis C and have absolutely no idea they had it, Dr. Fox says. Weve had to change our screening recommendations over time so that were not only testing people who self-report a history of a risk factor.
Currently, the CDC recommends all adults get screened for hepatitis C at least once in their lifetime, and pregnant women should be screened during each pregnancy. For people with ongoing risk factorsfor example, for people who regularly inject drugs or share needlesmore frequent testing is recommended.
How Does Hepatitis C Spread
Hepatitis C is spread only through exposure to an infected person’s blood.
High-risk activities include:
- Sharing drug use equipment. Anything involved with injecting street drugs, from syringes, to needles, to tourniquets, can have small amounts of blood on it that can transmit hepatitis C. Pipes and straws to smoke or snort drugs can have blood on them from cracked lips or nosebleeds. Get into a treatment program if you can. At the very least, don’t share needles or equipment with anyone else.
- Sharing tattoo or piercing tools. Nonsterile items and ink can spread contaminated blood.
- Blood transfusions in countries that donât screen blood for hepatitis C.
- Nonsterile medical equipment. Tools that arenât cleaned properly between use can spread the virus.
- Blood or cutting rituals. Sharing the tools or exchanging blood can transmit hepatitis C.
Medium-risk activities include:
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Sharing A Fork Spoon And Glass
You’re at a restaurant and someone at your table offers a taste of their delicious cheesecake. Should you politely pass? Well, not if you’re worried about catching hepatitis C. Go ahead and taste that dessert because sharing eating utensils doesn’t spread the virus. Also, have a sip of their water, too. Remember, spreading hepatitis C requires direct contact with infected blood, not saliva.
Why Are We Talking About Sexual Transmission Of Hepatitis C Among Gbmsm
Drug use, and injection drug use in particular, is a well-understood pathway for hepatitis C transmission. Sexual transmission of hepatitis C isnt as clear. The evidence suggests that sexual transmission of hepatitis C among heterosexual couples is rare.1 However, as we will discuss below, sexual transmission of hepatitis C can occur among gbMSM. Further, changing sexual practices among gbMSM2 using new HIV prevention approaches may be having an impact on the rates of sexual transmission of hepatitis C.
The Blueprint to inform hepatitis C elimination efforts in Canada indicates that gbMSM are an emerging priority population for efforts to eliminate hepatitis C infection. The Blueprint states that sexual transmission and/or transmission through drug use are the main risk factors for hepatitis C among gbMSM.3 However, hepatitis C infection may not be widely considered a priority for sexual health services and education for gbMSM.
It is challenging to understand the risk of sexual transmission among gbMSM, including separating the risks of transmitting hepatitis C through sex and through drug use. In the studies discussed in this article, where information on drug use is included in the research it is often based on self-reported data, which may be an underestimate because of the stigma that can be associated with drug use.
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