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Infection. 2007 Dec;35(6):465-8. Epub 2007 Sep 28.

Hepatitis C virus infection: sexual or non-sexual transmission between spouses? A case report and review of the literature.

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Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, University of Padua, Via Giustiniani 2, 35128, Padua, Italy.


The most efficient route of transmission of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is through contaminated blood. Sexual transmission or other close human contact could play a role in sporadic infections. We describe a case of acute hepatitis C progressing to chronic hepatitis over a follow-up of 4 years in a 44-year-old woman having a long-standing monogamous relationship with an HCV infected partner. The infection followed the accidental exposure to her husband's contaminated blood containing a high viral load. The case reported here is the first characterized by a documented direct percutaneous HCV transmission outside the healthcare setting, and suggests that sexual exposure to HCV should be considered only after an accurate exclusion of other routes of intrafamilial spread of the infection. Such conclusion is based on a thorough and updated review of the literature concerning both sexual and household transmission of HCV.

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