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Sep 25, 2002

how is hepitis c transmitted

Response from Mr. Kull

Hepatitis C is a disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Hepatitis C is found in the blood of an infected person. HCV is spread by coming into certain types of contact with an infected person's blood. Injection drug users who share needles, health care workers exposed to blood and those receiving blood and organ donations prior to 1992 are at greatest risk for infection. There is a high incidence of HCV and HIV coinfection (two infections in the same person); HIV-positive injection drug users and hemophiliacs are most likely to be HIV and HCV coinfected. If you have questions about HCV and HIV coinfection, please visit the Hepatitis and HIV Forum.

Most studies show that HCV is not likely to be transmitted sexually, though it is possible. The CDC does not recommend that long term monogamous partners change their sexual behavior due to one partner being HCV infected. Another study out of the 13th Meeting of the International Society for STD Research showed that sexual transmission may be responsible for up to 20% of U.S. HCV infections. Unlike HIV, HCV does not seem to be transmitted through contact with mucous membranes (the lining of the anus, vagina, urethra and mouth). Sexual contact that involves trauma, blood or STDs increases risk of HCV transmission.


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