Sex & Hepatitis C


Sex & Hep C reader feedback

'Don't make a judgment for other people'

Your site's Hep C Sex Dos and Dont's page says: "In any case, telling sex partners about hep C is an absolute must."

I'm not sure where you are based but certainly in Australia there is no legal requirement to disclose HVC status to a sexual partner. A person with HCV can be responsible and not take risks, without disclosing status. This message doesn't take into account casual sex, that might happen without any chance to get to know each other over time and feel safe to share status.

For the author it might be a moral MUST, but it's important not to make a judgment for other people.

Rhondda L.

Editor replies: Thanks for the feedback. Interesting perspective from a healthcare worker.

In the United States, hep C carriers who infect others sometimes are hauled into court, both criminal and civil actions. Burden of proof on establishing the carrier knew they had it. Same with herpes.

Of course, "an absolute must" is an editorial view but I can't imagine putting it any other way.

Exposing another person to a potentially fatal disease without their knowledge would be reprehensible in any context. Go ask 100 people on the street if that's OK. Just curious, do you feel the same way about herpes?

Good luck with your important work down there!

Hepatitis C infection from gay sex

I noticed on your site that it says that you can't get hep C from sex. This is not true.

I know more than a few gay men who have gotten infected with Hep C from rimming and you can get it from fisting/being fisted without latex gloves.


Editor replies: The site never states that you can't get hepatitis C from sex. If that were a fact, there would be no need for this web site!

Most but not all researchers in the field belive that sex alone does not cause transmission of hep C. Or if it does, sex seems a highly inefficient transmitter. The CDC's head hepatitis fighter confirmed this view in early 2012. Almost always researchers find a blood-to-blood link when investigating claims of sexual transmission. Such as drug use or rough sex.

Fisting without latex gloves would be a highly dangerous activity since the anal region is highly susceptible to bleeding. Rough sex and hep c are bad bed partners.

We recently introduced a page dedicated to gay safety and the "epidemic" of HCV infections in that community. Read more about gays and hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C and French kissing

A friend and potential partner has hep C. I was curious about French kissing and the virus. I am healthy and NOT a carrier, however, after flossing my gums can occasionally bleed.

Would French kissing my friend put me at risk for contracting hep C due to his saliva coming into contact with my gums? I value my health and don't wish to put myself at risk.


Editor replies: I have never seen a report of anyone getting the virus from French kissing, but there remain a significant number of unexplained hep C cases out there.

The standard advice is to avoid deep/French kissing while either of you has actively bleeding gums. As in right after aggressive flossing. For transmission both parties would have to be bleeding, though. Sharing toothbrushes at any time is a bad idea because the virus can linger there.

So don't be fearful -- just floss after the fun, not immediately before. Be sure to run this by your doctor.

After interferon, is sex safe?

Am I safe to have unprotected sex with a woman who has undergone interferon treatment for hep C?

I can't quote figures, but her physician quoted numbers to her to substantiate his belief the treatment worked well.

I do not have hep C and we have not yet begun dating. Please advise.

Bob H.

Editor replies: If you have not started to date (an optimist, eh?), then common sense and fair play would dictate protection when the time comes, regardless of whether your friend has the hep C virus.

When it comes to safety, interferon treatment doesn't affect things one way or another. Same with telaprevir. Either she has hep C or she has cleared it.

Promising "numbers" probably refer to liver enzyme levels or viral loads, both of which are cause for hope when they fall dramatically during treatment. After several months, what the doctors call a "sustained virologic response" (SRV) would strongly suggest that she's cleared the disease. Let's hope so.

Treatment can have a significant effect on sex lives, though: Be sure to check out our page on the effects of hep C interferon treatments on sexual abilities and desires.

Could I have gotten this from sex?

I was told last year, after getting a blood test from my physical, that I had hepatitis C. I was devastated and shocked! Have never ever taken drugs or dealt with any kind of needles. I have gone with a few guys that took drugs. I did not have protected sex with them. Want to know, could I have gotten this from having sex?

Frances P.

Editor replies: Sorry to hear you've joined The Club. I don't have much to add to what's on the web site. It's a blood-to-blood transmission, so rough sex or anal sex or sex toys could be a source -- even with minor bleeding. (Be sure to tell future partners.)

You could have gotten it from a contaminated needle in doctor's office, blood donation, sharing a toothbrush after flossing ... it's a really long list. You'll never know, so don't fret about it.

Disclaimer: The author is not a doctor and has no training in health care. Consult your physician in all cases.

Have a question, comment or correction? Email Sex & Hep C's editor. (Your full name will not appear on the site unless you indicate that's OK.)