How common is sexual transmission of hepatitis C?

Answer From Michael F. Picco, M.D.

Hepatitis C is transmitted primarily by exposure to blood containing the hepatitis C virus. Current research suggests that if you're in a long-term, monogamous relationship with a partner who has hepatitis C, your risk of contracting hepatitis C is quite low — unless you also have human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

For monogamous couples, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn't recommend routine condom use to prevent hepatitis C transmission. But couples should avoid sharing razors, toothbrushes and nail clippers. Your risk may also be higher if you have intercourse during menstruation or have anal sex, which is more likely to cause bleeding.

Your risk of contracting hepatitis C increases significantly if you have HIV. Also, the risk of transmission is higher if you have multiple short-term sexual relationships with partners who have hepatitis C. 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 simple blood test. Treatment may include medications to help clear the virus from the bloodstream and ultimately cure you of hepatitis C.

With

Stacey A. Rizza, M.D.

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Sept. 29, 2021 See more Expert Answers