How common is sexual transmission of hepatitis C?

Answers from Michael F. Picco, M.D.

Hepatitis C is transmitted primarily by exposure to blood containing the hepatitis C virus. Transmission rarely occurs from exposure to other infected body fluids, such as semen.

If you're in a long-term, monogamous relationship with a partner who has hepatitis C, your risk of contracting hepatitis C is thought to be low. For these monogamous couples, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn't recommend routine condom use to prevent transmission. But couples should avoid sharing razors, toothbrushes and nail clippers.

The risk of transmission is higher if you have multiple short-term sexual relationships with partners who have hepatitis C. Your risk of contracting hepatitis C increases significantly if you have HIV. Under these circumstances, the CDC recommends routine condom use to reduce your risk of transmission.

If you're concerned about hepatitis C, talk to your doctor. Hepatitis C can be diagnosed by a blood test. Treatment may include medications to help clear the virus from the bloodstream.

Dec. 10, 2011 See more Expert Answers