Hepatitis C modes of transmission

Patient

Q: My new boyfriend was recently diagnosed with Hepatitis C, we have not engaged in any sexual intercourse yet because I am afraid I will contract it. He said he does not like to use condoms and not to worry that it is rare to contract it through sexual intercourse. Is he right?

Doctor

A:   Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is predominantly transmitted by means of exposure to infected blood, such as in a blood transfusion. However, screening of blood donors for HCV antibody has been carried out since 1990, which has decreased the risk dramatically. In developed countries, most new HCV infections are related to intravenous drug abuse (IVDA). HCV may also be transmitted by means of acupuncture, tattooing, and sharing razors. Needlestick injuries in the healthcare setting result in a 3% risk of HCV transmission. Alternate routes of transmission in healthcare include; contaminated colonoscope, via dialysis, or during surgery, including organ transplantation before 1992. 5% of the individuals infected with HCV, acquire infection secondary to high-risk sexual activity (unprotected sex) and maternal-fetal transmission. Casual household contact and contact with the saliva of those infected are inefficient modes of transmission. Therefore I would advise always practicing safe sex with condoms, especially if your partner has been confirmed Hepatitis C positive.

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