(HealthDay News) – Monogamous heterosexual couples where one partner is infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) are at very low risk of transmitting the virus to the uninfected partner, according to a study in the March issue of Hepatology. A related study in the same journal found that the prevalence of HCV infection among newly incarcerated inmates is about 1%.
Arthur Y. Kim, MD, from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues conducted health assessments for 6,342 newly incarcerated inmates over an 18-month period, and of these, 3,470 were screened for HCV infection. The researchers identified 1.9 patients/month, with an estimated prevalence of about 1%.
Norah A. Terrault, MD, MPH, from the University of California San Francisco, and colleagues assessed the risk of HCV transmission among 500 anti-HCV-positive, HIV-negative individuals and their heterosexual partners in monogamous relationships. After 8,377 person-years of follow-up, the researchers found that the maximum incidence rate of HCV sexual transmission was 0.07% per year, or about one in 190,000 sexual contacts.
“In conclusion, 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,” Terrault and colleagues write.
One author from the first study disclosed consulting work for Vertex Pharmaceuticals.