Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sexual transmission of HCV rare among long-term, monogamous couples

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Sexual transmission of HCV among monogamous heterosexual couples: The HCV partners study

Sexual transmission of HCV rare among long-term, monogamous couples

Terrault NA. Hepatology. 2013;doi:10.1002/hep.26164.
  • February 19, 2013
Patients with chronic hepatitis C in long-term, monogamous relationships are at a very low risk for transferring the virus to their partner via sexual contact, according to a recent study.

Researchers interviewed 500 anti-HCV-positive patients with chronic HCV, along with their long-term heterosexual partners (minimum relationship duration of 36 months, median 15 years), about their sexual practices and lifetime exposure to risk factors for HCV infection. HCV RNA, anti-HCV and HCV genotype and serotype were assessed via blood samples, and phylogenetic analysis and sequencing also were performed.

Among the partners of patients with HCV, 20 tested positive for anti-HCV, including 13 who also tested positive for HCV RNA. HCV prevalence between partners occurred in 4% of cases, including nine couples with concordant genotype and serotype. Investigators calculated a minimum prevalence of 0.6% for infection attributable to sexual contact, assuming discordance among all partners who tested negative for HCV RNA, and a maximum of 1.2%, assuming concordance among those who tested negative for HCV RNA but were part of an antibody-concordant couple.
The estimated incidence of sexually transmitted HCV infection ranged from 3.6 to 7.2 per 10,000 person-years, with the estimated risk for transmission ranging from one in every 190,000 sexual encounters to one in every 380,000. No associations were observed between HCV positivity and any specific sexual activities.

“HCV transmission by sex from chronically infected persons to their heterosexual partners in a long-term monogamous relationship likely occurs, but is a rare event,” the researchers concluded. “Our results provide a basis for specific counseling messages that clinicians can use with their patients. These messages should be qualified given the limitations of the sample size, but they support the current national recommendations that couples not change their sexual practices if they are in a monogamous heterosexual relationship.”

Source - Healio
Full Text - NATAP

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