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Aug 5, 2006

can safe sex prevent heptatis viruses transmission. I tested negative for HIV. Can condoms prevent heptatis infection?

Response from Dr. Daar

Thank you for your posting.

There are three main types of hepatitis virus infection we talk about.

Hepatitis A is transmitted primarily from exposure to fecal material and can occur in association with intimacy and is not prevented by condoms. There is a highly effective vaccine. In addition, most people who do acquire it will have an illness that will resolve with time and then they will remain immune to future infection.

Hepatitis B is transmitted the same way as HIV, mostly blood and sexual exposures, as well as from infected pregnant women to their newborns. Condoms are largely protective from sexual exposure with the same limitations as for HIV transmission. It is important to note that there is also an effective vaccine against hepatitis B that is recommended for all children and at risk adults. If you have not received this I strongly urge you to discuss this with your provider.

Hepatitis C is primarily transmitted by blood exposure but can be transmitted sexually as well. Condoms should be at least partially effective. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for this virus and when infection occurs it can be chronic and result in liver disease over many years. The best way to protect oneself from this would be to avoid exposure to other peoples blood and to use condoms when appropriate.

Further information regarding these issues can be found on various sites including that of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). cdc

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