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Re: [GIWorld-Hepatitis] sexual transmission of Hep.C.

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  • claudine intexas
    Hi Willem, I don t think anyone can answer your questions with 100% certainty with this issue - which is why it (sexual transmission) continues to be an issue
    Message 1 of 2 , Oct 27, 2003
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      Hi Willem,
      I don't think anyone can answer your questions with 100%
      certainty with this issue - which is why it (sexual transmission)
      continues to be an issue and subject of study. I'll do my best to try
      and answer at least some of the questions as best as I understand
      from the various things I've read on the subject.
      First, HCV still is not considered to be a sexually transmitted
      disease, although in RARE cases it may happen. It is generally
      considered to be a blood to blood aquired disease. However, yes, HCV
      viral particles have been found occasionally in semen, mostly in men
      who have very high viral loads. (Note: blood can sometimes be found
      in semen, especially if the man has a sexually transmitted disease or
      a urinary tract infection.) It is not clear though that the virus is
      transmitted this way. Levels found in semen are usually low, and it
      does require a certain (probably unknown) level of virus to be
      present to be considered infective. This is because just about
      anyone's immune system is capable of fighting off a small level of
      the virus. Also, even if there are levels of virus in the semen in
      large enough quantity to cause an infection it must still have a
      route of entry into the blood stream of the partner. While the mucous
      membranes which line the vagina, mouth, and anus are not great
      protection against many organisms, these mucous membranes do seem to
      be protective enough against HCV in most cases. Cases where it is NOT
      enough protection are situations such as: vaginal infections which
      lead to fragile membranes which tear easily, or open sores; multiple
      sex partners, which increases the likelihood of other sexually
      transmitted infections - which lead to the sores, etc. There is also
      a theory that the virus may "piggy-back" on another virus, such as
      HIV or herpes, to enter the human body and cause infection. Anal sex
      is considered to put a person at higher risk because there may be
      more danger of damage to the membranes lining the anus, but some
      studies have not found any higher risk with anal sex. As for oral
      sex, it is very doubtful that this is a route of infection. I don't
      think any studies have found any higher risk of infection with oral
      sex. Again, viral particles HAVE been found occasionally in saliva
      and/or epithilial cells of the mouth, but there is no indication that
      the virus is transmitted through this route at all. I think in
      addition to the fact that high levels of the virus would need to be
      present in either semen or saliva, there would have to be sore or
      other lesions, and then there is also the theory that the digestive
      enzymes present in the mouth and stomach may also provide some
      protection from the virus. As far as I know there are no documented
      (or even suspected) cases of HCV transmitted orally. Overall, when
      ALL risk factors, ALL known methods of transmission are looked at
      when assessing HOW someone got the disease, sexual transmission is
      almost always ruled out. While it may not be impossible to get HCV
      through sex, when it does happen there are almost always other
      factors involved, such as vaginal infections. I should also state
      that at least one study found NO risk of transmision through sex. In
      all cases of suspected sexual transmission it was found that the
      person had other risk factors, such as IV drug use.
      Hope that helped!

      Claudine

      --- "w.m.landstra" <lands142@...> wrote:
      > HI Claudine.Reg. the mail you send about this subject.I found it
      > very difficult to understand could you explain a few things in
      > plain english please.Questions:Does the virus needs blood to blood
      > contact to transmit or is it in the semen and then penetrates the
      > tissues when having sexual contact.What.s is the danger of oral sex
      > when the semen reaches into the mouth?.Very blunt questions but
      > they are very important.Have they ever checked the amount of virus
      > in semen?.Does the tissues,lining in mouth,vagina and anus prevents
      > the virus from penetrating,entering,a sort of strong protective
      > barrier or not?Thanks,Willem.
      >
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
      >


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