Hepatitis C and Dating

Question

Dr. Taylor,

What is your recommendation in terms of heterosexual HCV+ patients disclosing to people they are dating and casual sex partners? If someone has Hep C and is dating someone casually, would you counsel that person to disclose if they intend to ALWAYS using a condom anyways?

Thank you

Answer

Remember that with the scenario you are discussing, you are putting yourself at risk for HIV, herpes, syphilis, chlamydia and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). A condom reduces risk of passing and spreading STIs but is not foolproof, and does not help if you have unproteced oral sex. SO it is safest to discuss these issues with any potential sexual partner and be very clear before sex beings about what you do and do not want. I understand that this can be hard.

Regarding hep C, studies of heterosexual monogamous couples followed over years in which 1 person has hep C and the other does not, demonstrate that the uninfected partner does not get infected. Hep C is not a classic STI. That being said, there are certain situations in which hep C may be spread via sex, including amongst HIV+ men who have sex with men. HIV itself may facilitate spread even among heterosexual sexual couples. Avoiding sex involving blood (for example anal sex = sex in the butt), and sex when a woman with hep C is menstruating (having her period) is important.

Disclosing also gives opportunity for your partner to provide you with information that you need to make important health decisions-- for example whether or not she/he is living with HIV. So ideally consider disclosing and explaining that hep C is not a classic STI and is not in general spread via heterosexual sex, while avoiding sex that involves blood is important.