Jun 30, 2014
I have recently met a man who has Hepetitis C. If we marry we will be completely monogamous. Can we have sexual intercourse and oral sex without protection? Can we kiss each other? Can his fingers and mouth be used on me me without protection? What is my chance of getting Hepatitis C if we do not use protection and are careful about any cuts or open sores?
Response from Dr. Taylor
Hepatitis C is NOT a classic sexually transmitted infection (STI).
Very, very low transmission rates among HCV-discordant monogamous heterosexual couples (couple where 1 person is female, the other male, they have sex with each other only) followed prospectively over many years have established that HCV is not readily spread via heterosexual sexual transmission. Here is an example of 1 such study:
Marincovich B, Castilla J, del Romero J, et al. Absence of hepatitis C virus transmission in a prospective cohort of heterosexual serodiscordant couples. Sex Transm Infect 2003; 79:1602.
Supporting this is the fact that hepatitis C does not follow the same heterosexual sexual transmission patterns as classic STIs, such as gonorrhea and chlamydial infection. However, certain behaviors, such as anal intercourse (sex in the butt) and group sex, could result in HCV transmission among heterosexuals.
The thing to avoid is sex with bleeding, so best to avoid anal sex, sex when the woman has her period if she is the one with hep C, very rough vaginal intercourse.
HIV infection appears to increase the risk of catching hep C through sex, so see if he has been tested for HIV...this is also very important because HIV IS spread very easy through sex so good to know your partner's status.
So overall your risk of catching hep C from him through sex if he does not have HIV is close to zero.
Remember to avoid sharing toothbrushes and razors as these may contain small amounts of blood.
ON THE OTHER HAND -- hep C IS spread readily through unprotected anal intercourse (sex in the butt) between HIV-infected gay men and other men who have sex with men. Hep C IS considered an STI for this population.
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