Avatar universal

Am I at risk?


Wanted to pose the following question to the Hep C community.

My girlfriend and I have been together for about 7 months so far.  After dating for a while, she shared with me that her father has Hepatitis C as a result of a blood transfusion he had back in the early 80's.  This was before she and her twin sister were born.

She told me she's never been tested for the disease (and I believe her mother who passed away when she was 6 didn't have it when she gave birth to her) but I didn't know if I could be at risk.  We've frenched kissed before and I've noticed that her gums have bled sometimes when she's brushed her teeth (as have mine) and I know blood to blood contact is a transmission risk.

Just curious if I'm over thinking this or if this is something to be concerned about.  Thank you very much.
6 Responses
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1747881 tn?1546175878
"Just curious if I'm over thinking this"

Yes you are, you don't even know if your GF has hep c, however if you are worried perhaps you and your GF should get tested together to relieve any anxiety you may have.
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Avatar universal
Thanks for the quick response.

I guess I was curious if there's a risk for the kissing scenario I described as I realize sexual contact is very low.  If there's a low risk, I'm planning to move on with my life and not sweat it.  No sense in worrying unless there's something to worry about!  Just trying to educate myself is all.

Thanks agian.
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446474 tn?1446347682
If you are at risk for hepatitis C infection it is not because of your girlfriend's mother or father or from her. Her father HCV status has no impact on her hepatitis C status.
If her mother wasn't infected with the virus there is 0 chance of her being infected by her mother.

Transmission from your girlfriend through kissing or any sexual activity in monogamous couples is extremely rare.
About 1 new infection per 190,000 sexual contacts!
Sexual Transmission of HCV among Monogamous Heterosexual Couples: the HCV Partners Study.
NA Terrault, JL Dodge, EL Murphy, MJ Alter, et al.
November 23, 2012

'Transmission of hepatitis C virus (HCV) between long-term, monogamous, heterosexual partners can potentially occur, but appears to be very uncommon, according to a study of 500 couples described in the November 23, 2012, advance online edition of Hepatology. Furthermore, the analysis failed to find a link between HCV transmission and any specific sexual activities.

Prior studies of HCV sexual transmission have produced mixed results. Research generally has shown that transmission is rare -- estimated at 0%-5% -- between partners in stable heterosexual couples. The risk is higher for people with multiple sex partners, however, and outbreaks of presumed sexually transmitted hepatitis C have been reported among HIV positive urban gay men in Europe, Australia, and the U.S. during the past decade.

The analysis included 500 HCV antibody positive but HIV negative individuals and their long-term heterosexual partners -- the largest such study ever conducted in the U.S. They were recruited in Northern California between 2000 and 2003. The majority of HCV positive people were non-Hispanic whites with a median age of 49 years (range 26 to 79 years). Couples had been in a sexual relationship for at least 3 years, with a median a median of 15 years (range 2 to 52 years). Couples in which both partners were injection drug users were excluded.

Couples were interviewed separately about lifetime risk factors for HCV infection, including injection drug use, sharing personal grooming items such as razors, and sexual activity. Blood samples were tested for HCV antibodies, HCV RNA, and HCV genotype and serotype. Virus was genetically sequenced to determine by phylogenetic analysis whether partners had the same or different virus strains, the latter suggesting sex or other exposures with someone other than the primary partner.

Based upon 8377 person-years of follow-up, the maximum prevalence of HCV infection among sexual partners of people with chronic HCV infection was 1.2%.

The maximum incidence rate of HCV sexual transmission was 0.07% per year, or about 1 new infection per 190,000 sexual contacts.
No specific sexual practices were found to be associated with both partners in a couple being HCV positive.

"The results of this study provide quantifiable risk information for counseling long-term monogamous heterosexual couples in which 1 partner has chronic HCV infection," the study authors concluded. "In addition to the extremely low estimated risk for HCV infection in sexual partners, the lack of association with specific sexual practices provides unambiguous and reassuring counseling messages."

"Sexual transmission of HCV among monogamous heterosexual couples is an extremely infrequent event," they elaborated in their discussion. "Condom use was infrequent among the study participants and decreased over the duration of the sexual relationship, indicating that the very low rate of sexual transmission in our study population was not due to use of barrier methods during sexual activity."

Studies looking at the presence of HCV RNA in semen, vaginal fluid, cervical smears, and saliva have produced conflicting results, but generally find that levels are undetectable or very low.

"A low titer of virus in genital secretions may be one reason that HCV is transmitted less efficiently than hepatitis B virus or HIV," the researchers wrote. "Additionally, transmission of infection by sex may require a specific genital tract environment such as disrupted mucosal integrity or the presence of viral or bacterial coinfections. These factors may explain the recent reports of HCV transmission by sex in HIV-infected men who have sex with men."

These results "support the current national recommendations that couples not change their sexual practices if they are in a monogamous heterosexual relationship," they concluded.

It must be emphasized that these findings are only applicable to monogamous, HIV negative heterosexuals. People with multiple sex partners, HIV positive individuals (men and women), and gay/bisexual men are at higher risk; there have been no adequate studies of lesbians. Studies to date of HCV sexual transmission among gay men have not shown consistent associations with specific activities, so it is difficult to recommend particular safer sex or other harm reduction strategies.'
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Avatar universal
Hi Hector,

Thank you so much!  Very much feel better.

I had gotten tested for Hep C in my previous relationship, so I'll assume I'm ok at this point.

Thank you again :)
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446474 tn?1446347682
Good for you.
It is nice to see someone who is dealing responsibly with their relationships and has a sense of humor. It tells a lot about your character.

Live long and prosper!

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Avatar universal
My husband and I have been together for 44 years. He found out he had
Hep C in Dec 2010. He apparently got it as a result of blood transfusions in 1979. Of course, I was concerned I would be positive as well after so many years of intimate sexual contact.  I have been tested twice - negative.
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