What Are The Symptoms And Consequences Of Infection
Approximately 20 percent of persons exposed to the virus develop symptoms which may include jaundice , fatigue, dark-colored urine, stomach pain, loss of appetite and nausea. After the initial infection, 15-25 percent will recover and 75-85 percent will become chronically infected . Approximately 70 percent of persons chronically infected may develop liver disease, sometimes decades after initial infection.
Sexually Transmitted Infections And Hepatitis C
New research, presented at the IAS 2017 conference in July, and published recently in BMC Infectious Diseases, shows for the first time that syphilisbut not chlamydiaalso increases risk of sexually acquired hepatitis C infection.
This is an important finding, said Nicholas Medland, MBBS and colleagues, because it brings to light a new biological pathway that may increase risk of hepatitis C. Syphilis can cause ulcers in the mucosal surfaces of the rectum, which may heighten susceptibility for hepatitis C infection if a person is exposed to HCV during anal sex.
We wondered, why is it that some people get sexually transmitted hepatitis C and others dont? Is it something about peoples sexual behavior? Or something about their bodies? So we looked at the risk factors for hepatitis C in our study, said Medland.
The study included data from 822 men living with HIV attending the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre in the Australian state of Victoria. All of the participants were receiving HIV care at the clinic, had two or more HCV antibody tests between January 2008 and March 2016 and had sexual contact with men as their first recorded risk factor for HIV acquisition. People were not included in the study if they used injection drugs .
The rate of new syphilis diagnoses among the men included in the study increased more than three times during the study, which lasted between 2008 and 2016.
How To Prevent Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is a liver infection caused by a virus . It can be serious and theres no cure, but the good news is its easy to prevent. You can protect yourself by getting the hepatitis B vaccine and having safer sex. If you have oral, anal, and vaginal sex, use condoms and dental dams to help stop the spread of hepatitis B and other STDs.
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Fact : Youll Have To Monitor For Hepatitis C Even After Being Cured
Hepatitis C is curable in most patients. Either your body will clear the infection on its own, or antiviral treatments will do the job, says Alina Allen, M.D., a gastroenterologist in the department of gastroenterology and hepatology at the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, MN. But once youve had HCV, the antibodies will remain in your system for life, she says, and you can be re-infected the same way you were originally. So being cured doesnt mean becoming immune to the virus. That sounds dramatic, but dont think of HCV as an enemy that cant be vanquished. Instead, consider it a reason to be tested periodically, Dr. Allen recommends.
Needlestick Injuries In Healthcare Settings
Nurses, physicians, and all healthcare professionals who routinely use needles while providing medical care are at risk for needlestick injuries. In fact, it is estimated that more than 600,000 needlestick injuries happen each year, with nurses being at highest risk. An average of about 2 percent of needlestick injuries where there has been exposure to the virus will result in acute hepatitis C.
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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.
Can Hepatitis C Be Spread During Vaginal Sex
Its rare for the hepatitis C virus to be transmitted through vaginal intercourse. Unless the vaginal walls arent lubricated or intercourse is very rough and leads to tears in the vaginal wall, theres no opportunity for blood to be exchanged. The risk for transmission with vaginal intercourse is about 1 in 190,000, according to research published in the March 2013 issue of the journal Hepatology.
Research published in the Journal of Coagulation Disorders in March 2014 reinforces these findings, emphasizing that transmission of the hepatitis C virus by sex in monogamous heterosexual couples is rare. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that couples in monogamous heterosexual relationships do not need to use condoms routinely, even if one partner has hepatitis C. Concerned couples, however, can discuss using a condom to lower the already very low risk of spreading the virus, says Talal.
Just how safe sex is when a partner has hepatitis C hinges on some other factors as well. For example, its important to use a new condom with each sexual act that has the potential to expose the uninfected partner to the infected persons blood, even if youre in a committed relationship, says the CDC. Some of these situations include sex when you or your partner:
- Has an open cut or sore
- Has another sexually transmitted infection , especially one that causes sores or lesions
- Is having her menstrual period
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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.
Can I Get Infected Again
Yes. When you have chickenpox or measles, your body builds immunity. If you’re exposed to these viruses in the future, your immune system knows how to fight them off. Hepatitis C is different. If you have contact with the virus again, for example if you share needles when injecting illicit drugs, you can get re-infected. Then you’ll have to start treatment all over again.
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Fact : Hcv Usually Has No Symptoms
One important aspect to keep in mind with HCV is that it can be in your system for a long time without becoming active, Dr. Diaz says, and often people who are diagnosed are unsure how they got infected. Thats because symptoms are rarethats a big part of why it can spread so easily. Because of that, consider getting tested as part of a regular checkup, especially if youre in a high-risk group and/or youre a Boomer.
Fact : You Cant Get Tested Right After Sex
Some STDs can be detected soon after unprotected sex, but HCV isnt one of them, Dr. Diaz explains. The virus antibody generally appears 12 weeks after exposure, she says, but your doctor may wait a few additional months to be sure. In part, thats because about 15% to 30% of people clear the virus on their own in that time frame with no major health impacts, Dr. Diaz says. So, if youve had sex with someone with HCV, youll likely be advised to wait for that amount of time before being tested.
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Is Hepatitis A Sexually Transmitted Disease
Robert Burakoff, MD, MPH, is board-certified in gastroentrology. He is the vice chair for ambulatory services for the department of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, where he is also a professor. He was the founding editor and co-editor in chief of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.
Some types of viral hepatitis can be transmitted through sexual contact, in addition to being transmitted via other routes. Each type of hepatitis virus has a different risk of being transmitted through sex.
Hepatitis C Symptoms And Treatment
Hepatitis C is part of a group of hepatitis viruses that attack the liver. It is commonly found in infected blood. It is also rarely found in semen and vaginal fluids.
The virus is usually passed on through using contaminated needles and syringes or other items with infected blood on them. It can also be passed on through unprotected sex, especially when blood is present.
It often has no noticeable symptoms. Some peoples bodies can clear the infection on their own but others may develop chronic hepatitis C and will need to take antiviral treatment to cure the infection and prevent liver damage.
- The basics
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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.
Should You Get Tested
The CDC recommends that anyone over the age of 18 get tested for Hepatitis C. But you should especially consider being tested if you:
- Were born between 1945 and 1965
- Have used injected drugs
- Were born to a mother who had hepatitis C
- Were treated for a blood clotting problem before 1987
- Got a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July 1992
- Have been a long-term hemodialysis patient
- Work in health care or public safety and were exposed to blood through a needle stick or other sharp object injury
If you get tested and find out you have hepatitis C, tell your sex partner and anyone else who may have been exposed to your blood, including through drug use.
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Fact : Stds Multiple Partners And Hiv Increase Risk
Some populations are at higher risk for sexual transmission, says Dr. Diaz. Theres more transmission in gay men, as well as those who have multiple sex partners. Having a sexually transmitted disease like HIV, gonorrhea, Hepatitis B, genital herpes, genital warts, and chlamydiaraises risk for contracting HCV as well because your immune system will be compromised to some degree, and not as effective at dealing with HCV. Also, the STD may involve sores that increase risk of transmission into the bloodstream.
What Are The Long
Without treatment, chronic hepatitis C can cause the liver to stop working properly. This scarring of the liver is called cirrhosis. A small number of people with cirrhosis develop liver cancer. Other than a liver transplant, theres no cure for cirrhosis. But, treatments can help relieve some of the symptoms.
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Can You Pass Hepatitis C To A Sex Partner
Sex and Sexuality
Yes, but it is not likely. Compared to hepatitis B virus and the human immunodeficiency virus , it is less likely that you will spread the hepatitis C virus to your sex partner.
If you have one long-term sex partner, and one of you has hepatitis C and one of you does not, you do not need to change your sex habits at all. But, if either you or your partner is worried about the small chance of spreading the hepatitis C virus, you can use latex condoms. This will make it almost impossible to spread the virus. Long-term partners of people with hepatitis C should get tested for the virus. If the test is negative, you will probably not need to repeat it.
If you have more than one sex partner, you are more likely to spread the virus. In this case, reduce the number of sex partners you have, practice safer sex, and always use latex condoms.
There have been outbreaks of sexually transmitted HCV infection among men who have HIV and who have sex with men. It is recommended that men who have sex with men use condoms to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted HCV and other sexually transmitted infections.
How Do You Get Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is really contagious. Its transmitted through contact with semen , vaginal fluids, and blood. You can get it from:
having vaginal, anal, or oral sex
sharing toothbrushes and razors
sharing needles for shooting drugs, piercings, tattoos, etc.
getting stuck with a needle that has the Hep B virus on it.
Hepatitis B can also be passed to babies during birth if their mother has it.
Hepatitis B isnt spread through saliva , so you CANT get hepatitis B from sharing food or drinks or using the same fork or spoon. Hepatitis B is also not spread through kissing, hugging, holding hands, coughing, sneezing, or breastfeeding.
How Is The Virus Spread
Like hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus is spread when blood of an infected person enters the body of a person who is not infected, such as through sharing needles or “works” when shooting drugs or occupational needle stick injury. The risk of sexual transmission has not been thoroughly studied but appears to be low in long-term, monogamous relationships. There is no evidence that the hepatitis C virus can be transmitted by casual contact such as hugging or shaking hands, through foods, by sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses, or by coughing or sneezing. Hepatitis C is not spread by breastmilk.
Can I Have Sex With My Partner
Yes. If you only have one sexual partner, the odds youll give hepatitis C to that person are very low. The CDC says monogamous couples dont need to routinely use condoms. Your risk of passing hepatitis C goes up if you have multiple sex partners, have an STD, or are infected with HIV. Hep C is also more likely to spread if you and your partner have rough sex.
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Can You Be A Blood Or Organ Donor
People with hepatitis C cant currently donate blood. The American Red Cross eligibility guidelines prohibit people who have ever tested positive for hepatitis C from donating blood, even if the infection never caused symptoms.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services , information on organ donation, those with underlying medical conditions shouldnt rule themselves out as organ donors. This reflects new guidelines for organ donation announced by the HHS.
People with HCV are now able to be organ donors. This is because advances in testing and medical technology can help the transplant team determine which organs or tissues can be safely used for transplantation.
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.
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