If You Have Hepatitis C Can You Have Sex Without Infecting Your Partner
Hepatitis C is a virus that is transmitted by blood. The most common ways people become infected with hepatitis C are through needle sharing, such as during injection drug use, or from blood transfusions received before 1992.
Becoming infected from sex is not common, but it does happen. If you have hepatitis C, the chance of infecting a sex partner is higher if you are with a new partner or if you have had many different partners over time. If you have hepatitis C, the chance of infecting a sex partner is lower if you are with a longtime stable partner and if you are in a monogamous relationship.
If your sex partner is new to you, or if you have many different partners, it is safer if you use condoms during sex to reduce the chance of transmitting hepatitis C.
It is always best to talk directly with your health care provider to assess whether you should start using condoms. If you are in a sexual relationship and either you or your partner has hepatitis C, the other partner should be tested for hepatitis C and other sexually transmitted viruses once a year, or as advised by your provider.
Can Hepatitis C Be Prevented Or Avoided
The only way to prevent hepatitis C is to avoid coming in contact with an infected persons blood. Always have protected sex . Dont do intravenous drugs. Dont share personal care items with a person who has hepatitis C. If youre a health care worker, follow your workplaces standard safety practices.
How Will I Know If My Treatment Works
The goal of treatment is to reduce the amount of the hepatitis C virus in your blood to levels that cant be detected after 24 weeks of therapy. The amount of the virus in your blood is called your viral load. At the end of your treatment, your doctor will need to measure your viral load and find out how healthy your liver is. He or she may repeat many of the same tests that were done when you were first diagnosed with hepatitis C.
If your blood has so few copies of the virus that tests cant measure them, the virus is said to be undetectable. If it stays undetectable for at least 6 months after your treatment is finished, you have what is called a sustained virologic response . People who have an SVR have a good chance of avoiding serious liver problems in the future.
Treatment may not reduce your viral load. You may not have an SVR after treatment. If thats true, your doctor will discuss other treatment options with you. For example, if 1 round of treatment did not decrease your viral load enough, your doctor may recommend a second round. Even if treatment doesnt keep you from having active liver disease, lowering your viral load and controlling chronic liver inflammation may help you feel better for a longer time.
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Charles S Lieber Md Macp
Charles S. Lieber, M.D., M.A.C.P., is chief of the Section of Liver Disease & Nutrition, Alcohol Research Center, Bronx, NY Medical Center and professor of medicine and pathology at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York. The preparation of this article was supported in part by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism grants AA11115 and AA12867, by the Department of Veterans Affairs, and by the Kingsbridge Research Foundation.
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that is characterized by jaundice, liver enlargement, abdominal and gastric discomfort, abnormal liver function, and other symptoms. Although in many patients the diseased liver is able to regenerate its tissue and retain its function, severe hepatitis may progress to scarring of the liver tissue , cirrhosis, liver cancer , and chronic liver dysfunction. Hepatitis can have numerous causes, such as excessive alcohol consumption or infection by certain bacteria or viruses. One common cause of hepatitis is infection with one of several types of viruses . With the development of new diagnostic tools, infections with the hepatitis C virus have received increasing attention in recent years. In the United States, the number of deaths caused by HCV is increasing and may approach or even surpass the number of deaths from AIDS in the next few years .
EPIDEMIOLOGY AND NATURAL HISTORY OF HCV INFECTION
EFFECT OF ALCOHOLISM ON HCV INFECTION
Effects of Alcoholism on HCV Acquisition and Persistence
Who Can Be Treated For Hepatitis C
Treatment decisions should be made by both you and your provider. Current treatments for hepatitis C are very successful and can cure most people of the virus.
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Sharing Toothbrushes Scissors And Razors
There’s a potential risk that hepatitis C may be passed on through sharing items such as toothbrushes, razors and scissors, as they can become contaminated with infected blood.
Equipment used by hairdressers, such as scissors and clippers, can pose a risk if it has been contaminated with infected blood and not sterilised or cleaned between customers. However, most salons operate to high standards, so this risk is low.
Can I Drink Alcohol Once In A While If I Have Hepatitis C
Alcohol can clearly contribute to worsening liver disease. You must discuss with your health care provider if any amount of alcohol is safe for you.
Alcohol can cause inflammation and scarring in the liver. If you have any underlying liver condition, such as hepatitis C or hepatitis B or damage from long-term alcohol use, your liver will be more sensitive to alcohol. When you have hepatitis C virus, alcohol on top of the hepatitis C can cause the inflammation and scarring to be worse, and overall damage to the liver may happen much faster when you drink alcohol.
Here is some helpful information about alcohol and hepatitis:
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How Do Doctors Diagnose Hepatitis C
You may be screened for hep C if youre having symptoms, you know youve been exposed, or your routine blood tests show elevated liver enzymes, which can indicate that you have inflamed or injured liver cells. Its normal to have low levels of enzymes in your blood to do things like break down proteins and turn food into energy. You run into problems when there are too many of the following enzymes in the liver and bloodstream:
If your healthcare provider is concerned that you have hep C, these tests will be ordered even if you dont have any symptoms:
Hep C Viral Antibody Test: This is the first test used to determine whether you have been infected with hep C at some point. The results will come back either positive or negative, but it doesn’t reveal whether the virus is active.
Hep C Viral Load: This test checks for hep C genetic code in your blood and determines whether you have an active infection. There are two types of this test: Qualitative tests are either positive or negative quantitative tests measures how much hep C is in a drop of blood.
Hep A and B Tests: These viruses also target the liver, so your healthcare provider will want to make sure youre not battling multiple infections at the same time. Also, theres a vaccine for Hep A and Hep B so youll want to get vaccinated for both to avoid further stress on your liver.
Treatment How Is Chronic Hepatitis C Treated
Each person should discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating hepatitis. This can include some internists, family practitioners, infectious disease doctors, or hepatologists . People with chronic hepatitis C should be monitored regularly for signs of liver disease and evaluated for treatment. The treatment most often used for hepatitis C is direct acting antiviral treatments.
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Is Hepatitis C Sexually Transmitted
Can hepatitis C be spread through sexual contact?
Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus . The disease can be passed from person to person.
As with many infections, HCV lives in blood and bodily fluids. You can contract hepatitis C by coming into direct contact with an infected persons blood. It can also be transmitted by contact with bodily fluids including saliva or semen of an infected person, but this is rare.
Researchers in found that 1 out of every 190,000 instances of heterosexual sexual contact led to HCV transmission. Participants in the study were in monogamous sexual relationships.
HCV may be more likely to spread through sexual contact if you:
- have multiple sexual partners
- participate in rough sex, which is more likely to result in broken skin or bleeding
- dont use barrier protection, such as condoms or dental dams
- dont use barrier protection properly
- have a sexually transmitted infection or HIV
Theres no evidence that HCV can be spread through oral sex. However, it may still be possible if blood is present from either the person giving or receiving oral sex.
For example, a slight risk may exist if any of the following are present:
- menstrual blood
- genital warts
- any other breaks in the skin in the involved areas
Though sexual transmission is rare overall, HCV may be more likely to spread through anal sex than oral sex. This is because rectal tissue is more likely to tear during intercourse.
Do I Have The Symptoms Of Hepatitis C
Hep C usually shows up first in routine bloodwork since many people have no symptoms at all. In fact, because hep C can remain dormant for so longit takes 10 to 40 years to progress from mild disease to cirrhosis, liver failure or liver cancerthe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending a one-time screening blood test for anyone born between 1945 and 1965 since this population is more at risk of having received a tainted blood transfusion.
In the meantime, it’s crucial to know what the symptoms of hepatitis c cirrhosis are. They include:
Taking action quickly if you have any of these symptoms is crucial. The liver, which is the second-largest organ has a big job, or rather jobs, including producing most of the protein we need, breaking down nutrients from food to produce energy, preventing nutrient shortages by storing certain vitamins, minerals and sugar, producing bile, which helps digest fat and absorb vitamins A, D, E and K, and fighting infection by removing bacteria from the blood.
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Life Expectancy And Prognosis
Can you die from hepatitis? Technically, the complications of chronic hepatitis C are fatal. About 30,000 people in the U.S. die each year from cirrhosis.
How long can you live with untreated hep C? The disease affects everyone differently, so thereâs no rule. But about 70% to 80% of people with will get chronic help C. Within 20 years, about 20% to 30% of those people will get cirrhosis. From there, it depends on what type of cirrhosis you have, your treatment, and if you can get a liver transplant.
Can hepatitis C go away on its own? Yes. From 15% to 20% of people with hep C clear it from their bodies without treatment. Itâs more likely to happen in women and people who have symptoms. But it usually happens between 4 and 18 months after symptoms start.
American Liver Foundation Hep C 123: âFrequently Asked Questions.â
Gastroenterology: âExtrahepatic morbidity and mortality of chronic hepatitis C.â
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: âHepatitis C.â
Therapeutic Advances in Infectious Disease: âExtrahepatic Manifestations of Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Infection.â
The Hepatitis C Support Project: âAn Overview of Extrahepatic Manifestations of Hepatitis C.â
BioDrugs: âManagement of hepatitis C virus-related arthritis.â
Frontiers in Endocrinology: âDiabetes and Hepatitis C: A Two-Way Association.â
U.S. National Library of Medicine: âAtherosclerosis,â âPreventing Hepatitis B or C.â
How To Prevent Hepatitis C
There is currently no vaccine for hepatitis C. Avoiding contact with infected blood is the only way to prevent the condition.
The most common way for people to contract hepatitis C is by injecting street drugs. Because of this, the best way to prevent hepatitis C is to avoid injecting.
Treatments can help many people quit. People in the U.S. can call the National Helpline for help with finding treatments.
If a person finds it difficult to stop, they can reduce the risk of contracting hepatitis C by never sharing drug equipment, ensuring a clean, hygienic environment, and always using new equipment, including syringes, ties, alcohol swabs, cottons, and cookers.
People who may come into contact with infected blood, such as healthcare workers and caretakers, should always wash the hands thoroughly with soap and water after any contact, or suspected contact, with blood. They should also wear gloves when touching another persons blood or open wounds.
People can also reduce their risk by making sure that any tattoo artist or body piercer they visit uses fresh, sterile needles and unopened ink.
The risk of contracting hepatitis C through sexual contact is low. Using barrier protection, such as condoms, reduces the risk of most sexually transmitted infections.
People who have hepatitis C can reduce the risk of transmitting it to others by:
There are many misconceptions about how hepatitis C spreads. People cannot transmit or contract the virus through:
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How Does Hepatitis C Progress
When someone is first infected with hepatitis C, most likely they have no symptoms and are unaware. Occasionally people experience fatigue, loss of appetite, weakness or sometimes having a yellow color in their skin or eyes. Although having any symptoms at all is rare, if they do occur, they usually go away within a few weeks.
Around 15-25% of people who are infected will spontaneously fight off the virus on their own and they will not have a chronic hepatitis C infection and no long term damage occurs.
But around 75-85% of people will develop chronic infection. Most of the time, people with chronic hepatitis C have no symptoms at the time of infection and no symptoms for years or even decades of chronic infection. The virus will be with them until they are successfully treated with hepatitis C medications.
Around 10-20% of people with chronic infection will slowly have gradual damage in the liver over years and will eventually develop cirrhosis . This can take 20 years or more from the time of the initial infection.
Cirrhosis is the replacement of liver cells with permanent scar tissue. Cirrhosis can lead to problems such as bleeding from veins in the esophagus, fluid buildup in the belly, and damaged brain function.Approximately 15% of people with cirrhosis will develop liver cancer during their lifetime. Drinking excessively can double the chance of liver cancer in people infected with HCV.
What Is The Best Treatment For Hep C
While there is currently no hep C vaccine, there are several FDA-approved prescription drugs that can cure the virus about 95% of the time. Treatment usually takes two to three months. Your healthcare provider will recommend a medication for you based on the genetic strain of the virus , the severity of your liver disease, and the presence or absence of other medical conditions such as HIV and kidney disease.
There are some people who are able to clear the virus on their own without treatment within the first six months of infection . Most of the time though, infections last longer than six months and the body needs meds to kill off the virus.
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What Are Possible Complications Of Alcoholic Hepatitis
If you dont stop drinking and your condition worsens, your overall outcome and chances for recovery will worsen as well.
Alcoholic hepatitis can lead to hepatic encephalopathy. This condition occurs when the toxins typically filtered out by your liver remain in the bloodstream. These toxins can cause brain damage and lead to a coma.
Your outlook may worsen if you develop cirrhosis as a result of excessive alcohol use. Bleeding complications, anemia, and liver failure can become life-threatening.
How Long Will The Effects Last
Symptoms of first infection, when they occur, may last 1 to 6 weeks and then they usually go away completely.
Some people who have hepatitis C develop the chronic form of the disease. This means the virus keeps affecting the liver for several months or years. Damage to the liver by the infection can scar the liver. This scarring of the liver is called cirrhosis. The infection and damage might even cause liver failure. Your healthcare provider may check your blood every few months for signs of chronic liver disease.
Infection with the hepatitis C virus increases your risk for liver cancer.
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How Can You Prevent Alcoholic Hepatitis
The best way to prevent alcoholic hepatitis is to avoid alcohol or, if you drink, to do so only in moderation. This is defined as less than two drinks per day for men and less than one drink per day for women.
You can also prevent alcoholic hepatitis through maintaining a healthy weight and by protecting yourself from hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Hepatitis B and C are bloodborne diseases. Theyre transmitted by sharing needles and other equipment for drug use or through some body fluids by having unprotected sex. Currently, vaccines are only available for hepatitis B, but not for hepatitis C.