Hepatitis C is transmitted through sexual intercourse, blood transfusions, and dirty needles. Casual contact and sharing a bathroom will not spread the desease. The following is a recent study that was done on the spread of hepatitis C through sexual contact.
Hepatitis C: Is Sex a Transmission Factor?
by Roy Palmer
The hepatitis C virus is being recognized as an important cause of liver disease. Approximately, 4-5 million Americans are thought to be infected by hepatitis C. Many, if not most of these people, will not experience serious long term consequences of the infection. However, a substantial minority will develop serious liver disease.
The confirmed risk factors for acquiring hepatitis C infection are well known: intravenous drug use, blood transfusions, surgery and dental therapy. However, many patients with hepatitis have no apparent risk factors for infection and the source of their infection has been unclear. In particular the role of sexual intercourse in transmission of viral infection has been unclear.
A recent study in Italy, which reviewed 1,359 cases of acute hepatitis C infection contracted in Italy during the years 1991 to 1996, suggests that sexual intercourse is an important source of hepatitis C transmission in Italy. The researchers took into account other risk factors for hepatitis C, including intravenous drug use, blood transfusions, surgery, and dental therapy.
Although intravenous drug use remained the most frequent source of infection, accounting for 36% of cases, having two or more sexual partners during the 6 months before disease onset accounted for almost as many cases at 35%, report researchers. The risk of hepatitis C was doubled for people with two sexual partners and almost tripled for those with three or more partners.
The main authors interpreted the findings: "The results suggest that heterosexual activity with multiple partners is associated with an increased risk of acquiring hepatitis C; moreover, the risk increases with increased numbers of sexual partners." Importantly, these findings are in agreement with a recent Spanish study, which showed that pregnant women who had two to four sexual partners in addition to their regular partner had three times the risk of hepatitis C, and those with more than four partners had eight times the risk of the disease, compared with those who did not engage in extramarital sex.
It is far easier to prevent disease rather than to cure it and hepatitis C is no exception. Several risk factor for hepatitis C transmission have been previously established and this is evidence of one more. Though it is not politically correct to critique promiscuous sexual behavior, it is important to present the scientific evidence as it becomes clear. This evidence indicates that having more than one sexual partner can have serious adverse medical consequences for many people.
Source: Journal of Medical Virology 1999;57:111-113
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