What Are The Symptoms
Many people do not feel unwell when first infected with Hep C
Others may find their urine becomes dark and their eyes and skin may turn yellow or may experience minor flu-like symptoms. These symptoms may resolve within a couple weeks, but this does not mean that the virus has gone.While many people do not have any symptoms, others may experience a variety of symptoms, including:
- tiredness and fatigue, which may be severe
- general feeling of being unwell
- pain or discomfort in the upper right side of the abdomen
- nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea
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
Enteric Routes: Transmission Of Hepatitis A And Hepatitis E
The Hepatitis A and hepatitis E viruses are both transmitted by enteric, that is digestive or by fecal, routes. This is also known as the fecal-oral route. To be exposed to these viruses, you must ingest fecal matter that is infected with the virus. While there are several ways in which this fecal-oral route can be established, poor hygiene and poor sanitary conditions in some countries lead to higher rates of infection of these viruses.
As a result, some areas of the world, like India, Bangladesh, and Central and South America, are particularly prone to the hepatitis E virus. About one-third of people in the United States have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus.
It is believed that the hepatitis F virus may also be spread by enteric routes.
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Is Sex Safe If One Person Has Hepatitis C
While the risk of transmitting the hepatitis C virus through sex is low, some sexual activities do increase the risk. Here’s what to know to stay safe.
If you or your partner has been diagnosed with hepatitis C, you dont have to swear off sex. Hepatitis C is spread through blood-to-blood contact, and although certain sexual behaviors may increase the risk of hepatitis C, the virus is only rarely spread through sexual transmission.
That doesnt mean you should throw caution to the wind: Although treatable, hepatitis C is a serious illness that can harm the liver and lead to cirrhosis, liver failure, liver cancer, and other health complications. Whats more, it usually doesnt cause symptoms and can go undetected for years even decades.
The risk comes down to whether sex results in mucosal tears in body tissues, such as to the or the rectum, says Andrew H. Talal, MD, MPH, a hepatologist and professor in the department of medicine at the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, part of The State University of New York.
Even the smallest tear in the skin or tissue gives the hepatitis C virus a way to travel from one body and enter the other. You need to always think about blood being exchanged thats where you need to be careful, Dr. Talal adds.
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.
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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.
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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Safe Sex And Sexually Transmitted Diseases
All sexually active people should consider safe sex because of the risk of contracting a sexually transmissible infection. STIs include conditions such as genital herpes, HIV, hepatitis B, gonorrhoea, syphilis, chlamydia, crabs and genital warts.
If you have any condition that involves scratching, sores or blisters the possibility of blood-to-blood contact and transmission of STIs is increased.
How Do You Get Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is most commonly spread through blood-to-blood contact. It is very infectious and the virus can stay alive outside the body for up to several weeks.
The infection can be spread by:
sharing needles and syringes, particularly when injecting drugs
medical and dental equipment that has not been properly sterilised
the transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products.
unsterilised tattoo and body piercing equipment
sharing contaminated razors, toothbrushes or towels .
It can be transmitted sexually, especially during or other types of sex that may involve blood, although this is less common. Sharing uncovered or unwashed sex toys can also pass it on.
The risk of hepatitis C infection is increased when you have another STI especially one that causes sores. People with HIV are also more likely to get hepatitis C.
The virus can also be passed on from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby. For more details on hepatitis C in pregnancy read our in detail tab.
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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.
Are There Any Complications If Not Treated
Studies show that without treatment, 25% of people with chronic Hep C will:
- develop cirrhosis over an average period of 18 years
- have a higher risk of developing liver cancer over the next decade
People who have Hep C that is untreated or has failed to respond to treatment are monitored carefully by liver specialists. Liver specialists look for signs of disease progression.
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How It’s Passed On
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.
Prevention And The Treatment Potential
Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent HCV infection. However, the recent availability of DAA for the treatment of chronic HCV with cures rates over 95% has created optimism towards HCV elimination. In many countries treatment is now available for all individuals with a chronic HCV infection, irrespective of fibrosis stage . Modelling studies were the first to demonstrate that rapid scale-up of DAA might limit onward transmission and chronic HCV prevalence and incidence among MSM could decline -. However, for substantial reductions a decline in risk behaviour is needed as the scale-up of DAA is counterbalanced by ongoing risk behaviour, resulting in initial and reinfections -. In addition, early treatment, including treatment of acute infection, might further reduce HCV incidence , . As treatment is costly and treatment uptake varies considerably across countries , effective behavioural interventions for MSM at risk of infection are urgently needed. Qualitative research among HIV-positive MSM with a cured HCV infection in the pre-DAA era showed that the strongest motive to implement risk reduction strategies was the reward of avoiding HCV retreatment and its side effects , but this may have changed with the less burdensome DAA treatment. Also sexual risk norms within the MSM population, HCV stigma and non-disclosure of HCV status forms barriers to safer sex, and drug use directly impedes the self-efficacy of MSM to take risk reduction measures .
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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.
What Is Hepatitis C
The term hepatitis means an inflammation of the liver. The inflammation may damage the liver, which is the largest internal organ in the body. The liver filters the blood and breaks down harmful substances.
Infection with a virus is the most common cause of hepatitis. If a person contracts HCV, the disease is called hepatitis C, or hep C for short.
Hepatitis A and hepatitis B are other types of hepatitis that result from viral infection. Hepatitis A, B, and C differ in the way they spread, their effect on the liver, and their method of treatment, according to the
HCV causes hepatitis C. A person may contract HCV by coming into contact with the blood of someone else who has the condition. Even microscopic amounts of blood may be enough to spread the virus.
In the United States, the way for someone to contract hepatitis C is by sharing drug-injection equipment, such as needles or syringes.
According to the , other ways a person may contract hepatitis C include:
- coming into contact with the open sores or blood of a person with the condition
- using the toothbrush, nail clippers, or razor of a person with the condition
- getting a tattoo or piercing with non-sterile instruments or inks
- getting an accidental stick with a needle from someone with hepatitis C
About 6% of babies born to people with hepatitis C will develop hepatitis C.
Sometimes an individual will experience symptoms 13 months after contracting HCV, according to
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How Do I Catch It
The most common way to catch hepatitis C is by sharing contaminated needles, spoons, and/or filters to inject drugs. This can include injecting anabolic steroids or recreational drugs .
There are other ways to catch hepatitis C, such as transmission from mother to child.
Increasingly, people are being found to have caught hepatitis C during procedures carried out abroad, where the instruments used have not been properly sterilised. This can include medical or dental procedures, tattoos or piercings, or the use of non-sterile razors in barber shops. This known to be a risk in areas including Asia, Africa, South America, Pacific Islands, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
Its also possible to catch hepatitis C by having unprotected sex with an infected person.
It is not caught by normal social contact, such as hugging, kissing, sharing kitchen utensils, or from a toilet seat.
Hepatitis C A Silent Killer Lurks Among Us
Hepatitis C is an inflammation of the liver caused by, you guessed it, the hepatitis C virus. As a disease, it can be a scary and often unknown entity. Often known as the silent killer since many infected are asymptomatic, hepatitis C, or HCV, is more common than many people know. But despite its scary nature, treatment is highly effective, and with widespread testing, we can help end hepatitis C as a silent killer.
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What It Can Do To You
Hepatitis C is very serious and contagious liver disease that can be mild and last a few weeks or become a serious and lifelong illness that attacks the liver. This can lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer.
If you are pregnant and infected with hepatitis C virus, you may pass the virus to your baby. About 4 out of every 100 infants born to mothers with hepatitis C become infected with the virus. Breastfeeding is not considered a risk. However, if your nipples are cracked and bleeding, you should stop breastfeeding until they are healed.
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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How Is Hepatitis C Diagnosed And Tested
Diagnosis of the type C hepatitis virus is essential to the long-term health of those infected with the illness. If you suspect that you have been infected a blood test can determine whether or not you have the disease. Blood tests can also measure the amount of virus present in your blood stream and determine the genotype of your virus, which can be useful in determining which hepatitis C treatment will be most effective for you.
Doctors may also recommend that you have a liver biopsy done if they believe you have been infected by hepatitis type C. This procedure involves a small needle being inserted through your skin and into your liver so a small sample tissue can be extracted. This tissue sample is then sent for laboratory testing. This testing can help determine the severity of the disease and help guide doctors toward the most appropriate treatment options.