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Sexual transmission

The risk of sexual transmission is very low in the absence of any other complicating factors - see research paper below. Although condom use is not suggested between monogamous heterosexual couples, the best way to be absolutely certain that you do not transmit hepatitis C is to use barrier contraception such as a condom or femidom (female condom).

The complicating factors that may increase the risk of transmission are:

  1. The presence of blood from menstruation or anal sex, particularly fisting (the lining of the anus is thin and prone to tears).
  2. The presence of ulcers or sores on your genitalia i.e. from a sexually transmitted infection such as gonorrhoea, herpes, genital warts.
  3. If either partner is co-infected with HIV the risk of sexual transmission of both viruses appears to increase.

It is important to bear in mind that condoms can break and you may want to consider using a heavy duty variety, particularly if there is a higher risk of transmission. A heavy duty condom is a much safer alternative than using two condoms, one inside the other, as the friction between them can in fact cause them to tear.

To read the results of a trial on sexual transmission of hepatitis C click here