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Am J Gastroenterol. 1992 Dec;87(12):1849-51.

Lack of evidence for the heterosexual transmission of hepatitis C.

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Department of Internal Medicine, William Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, Michigan.


To determine the potential for sexual transmission of the hepatitis C virus (HCV), we specifically studied a cohort of 42 young adults (median age, 39 yr) with chronic HCV infection and their stable sexual partners. All HCV assays were supplemented with the four-antigen recombinant immunoblot assay, and 39 of 42 partners were tested for HCV RNA by the nested polymerase chain reaction. Ninety percent of the partners reported frequent and unprotected sexual intercourse with the index patients. Two of 42 partners tested positive for the anti-HCV antibody and both were HCV RNA positive; one had independent risk factors for viral hepatitis. Therefore, one of 41 partners, (2.4%; 95% CI, 0.6-12.9%) without independent risk factors for HCV was anti-HCV positive. This woman was one of five partners (20%; 95% CI, 1-66%) who reported frequent razor-sharing with the index patient. The partner frequently sustained skin lacerations, with bleeding, secondary to this shared razor blade. We conclude that heterosexual transmission of hepatitis C is extremely uncommon, despite frequent and unprotected sexual intercourse.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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