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Is Hep C Easily Spread Through Sex?

Is Hep C Easily Spread Through Sex?


More evidence continues to mount showing that the hepatitis C virus can be spread through sexual activity, particularly among HIV-positive men who have sex with men. Previous studies have documented HCV transmissions through such extreme sexual practices as fisting, but several papers and posters presented at the 16th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections linked the spread of the disease in Europe to unprotected anal sex. France: An analysis of 32 HIVers who contracted hepatitis C within the prior 12 months showed that most of the infections occurred among men who were not only taking anti-HIV drugs but who had achieved undetectable HIV levels through antiretroviral treatment. Most also had CD4-cell counts above 350, suggesting that an HIV-weakened immune system was not a factor in hepatitis C risk. The Netherlands: Researchers at OLVG Hospital in Amsterdam report soaring numbers of acute hepatitis C infections among HIVers, about three quarters of which were among men who have sex with men. Diagnoses of HCV infections occurring within the prior 12 months increased 10-fold from two cases in 2003 to 20 during the first eight months of 2008. All told, about 1.5% of the 1,800 HIV-positive men who have sex with men receiving care at the hospital also had been diagnosed with recent HCV coinfection. None of the coinfected patients had such 'classic' risk factors for HCV as injection-drug use or direct exposure to infected blood. United Kingdom: A survey of 60 HCV-positive gay men coinfected with HIV through sexual activity showed that most were above age 35, were on antiretroviral therapy, and had median CD4-cell counts above 500 at the time of hepatitis C coinfection. The survey adds to the evidence showing that a weakened immune system is not a factor in sexual risks for the virus.

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