Sexual transmission – Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C

Sexual intercourse and anal sex with an infected partner are known to be important risk factors for transmission of HBV. Unlike hepatitis B, HCV does not appear to be readily transmitted by sex, either in heterosexuals or homosexuals.

Sexual transmission – Hepatitis B

Sexual intercourse and anal sex with an infected partner are known to be important risk factors for transmission of HBV. Studies have shown that 16-40% of sexual partners of individuals with clinical or subclinical chronic hepatitis B will acquire the infection,(Inaba N., Hepatitis B and the HBsAg carrier. An outbreak related to sexual contact. Br J Vener Dis 1979;55:366-368) although it seems that some kind of abrasion to the mucosa is still required for sexual transmission of the virus

(Dusheiko G., Oxford Textbook of Clinical Hepatology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991:571-592)

HBV is not transmitted by casual contact, such as touching, hugging, or kissing unless blood-to-blood or saliva- to-blood contact is possible, eg, through a cut lip or bleeding gums.

Sexual transmission – Hepatitis C

Unlike hepatitis B, HCV does not appear to be readily transmitted by sex, either in heterosexuals or homosexuals (Melbye M, Sexual transmission of hepatitis C virus; Cohort study (1981-9) among European homosexual men. Br Med J 1990;301:210-212). and one study failed to find virus in semen samples. However, there does appear to be a tendency for patients with many sexual partners to have an increased risk of HCV infection. Anti-HCV antibodies and HCV-RNA have been detected in saliva

(Morris AJ, Detection of HCV RNA in body fluids of patients with chronic hepatitis C infection. Hepatology 1992;16:570).

It is not yet clear whether HCV infection can be transmitted by kissing but transmission of infection by a human bite has been documented (Dusheiko, Hepatitis C Transmitted by Human Bite;Lancet 1990;336: 503-504).

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