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Viral Hepatitis and Liver Disease

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Sex and Sexuality

for Veterans and the Public

Sex and Sexuality - Hepatitis C for Patients

If you have hepatitis C, you may be concerned about spreading the virus to sex partners. It is not very likely that you will spread the virus through sex, but it is still possible. One of the best things you can do to protect your partners is to be treated with direct acting antiviral medications. Treatments are able to cure most people and there is no risk of spreading the virus after a cure. While you are waiting for a cure, you can practice safer sex by using condoms.

Long-term partners of people with hepatitis C should get tested for the virus. If the test is negative, it will probably not need to be repeated.

There have been outbreaks of sexually transmitted HCV infection among men who have HIV and who have sex with men. It is recommended that men who have sex with men use condoms to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted HCV and other sexually transmitted infections.

Using condoms will help prevent spreading the hepatitis C virus and will also protect you against other sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and hepatitis B. Condoms are the only method of birth control that would reduce spread of hepatitis C.

Other types of birth control methods, like birth control pills, vasectomy, intrauterine devices (IUDs), or diaphragms do NOT decrease the risk of spreading the hepatitis C virus.

What makes a person more likely to spread the hepatitis C virus to a sexual partner?

You may be more likely to spread the virus if you:

  • do not use latex condoms
  • have had more than 10 sexual partners
  • have had, or currently have, a sexually transmitted disease
  • practice anal sex as this may damage the lining of the rectum and make it easier to pass the virus through the blood