Viral hepatitis is a cause of severe public health burden. In 2015, it was estimated that 1.3 million people died from hepatitis. This number is similar to the death burden of tuberculosis and HIV. Well then, hepatitis C causes 30% of this death toll. After 1991, an official test was made available, and blood products were finally tested for hepatitis C. That reduced the rate of transmission in hospitals and medical procedures. But drug users were still a high-risk population as sharing needles is one of the most common transmission routes.
Hepatitis C is similar to hepatitis B in many ways. It is transmitted through blood products and causes chronic disease. But can you get hepatitis C by sexual intercourse?
How common is sexual transmission of hepatitis C?
Sexual transmission of hepatitis C is not as common as hepatitis B. But there’s undoubtedly a possibility, and you can get infected after having sexual intercourse with an infected individual. There have been sexually-transmitted outbreaks of hepatitis C, especially in HIV-positive patients and other immunocompromised individuals. In this group, the chance of getting hepatitis C through sexual activity is increasing.
In the past, 0.07 people per 100 were infected through sexual transmission (that is 7 people in 10,000). But since 2014, the increase is dramatic: 1.8 people per 100 (an increase of more than tenfold). This is perhaps because the virus is mutating and making sexual transmission more common. Our current diagnostic measures are better than before, and the transmission rate was actually higher than we thought.
Some patients think that after getting infected with hepatitis C, they cannot be infected again. But that’s not the case, and reinfection due to sexual transmission is even higher than primary infection. In other words, people who were infected with hepatitis have an even higher chance of getting infected once again after sexual intercourse with an infected individual. According to studies, 7.3 out of 100 people can be reinfected with the disease.