Can You Get Hepatitis C from Sex?

While injecting drug use remains the primary mode of transmission for the hepatitis C virus (HCV), an increasing focus has been placed the potential for infection through sexual contact. We say potential ­– as opposed to, say, risk or likelihood – as many experts still regard the concept of sexual HCV transmission as controversial. And, truth be told, the bulk of evidence seems to support this stance.

One study from the University of California, San Francisco in 2013 estimated that the risk of HCV among heterosexual couples was in the ballpark of one per 190,000 sexual contacts. Furthermore, the researchers concluded that the association between HCV and specific sexual acts was at best ambiguous and that mixed-status couples should be provided "reassuring counseling messages" as to the very low risk of infection

More recent evidence, however, suggests that such reassurances don’t hold up as well in other groups. In fact, since 2004, a number of studies have concluded that the risk of HCV through sex is not only high among men who have sex with men (MSM) but is increasing—predominately among those infected with HIV.

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