Is hepatitis a sexually transmitted disease?

Although Hepatitis C can be transmitted through sexual contact, the most common way of transmission is through exposure to contaminated needles during drug use.

Dr. Angela Lowery, DNP
Family Practitioner

Hepatitis C is not considered a sexually transmitted disease. Sexual transmission is an uncommon way of being infected with Hepatitis C.

Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is a liver disease. Although hepatitis B can be transmitted through sexual activity, hepatitis B is defined by its symptoms and not its transmission. Sexual activity can place you in the high-risk group for viral hepatitis infection. Men who have sex with men are especially at risk for hepatitis B as are people who have unprotected sex and unprotected sex with multiple partners.

Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a viral infection that affects the liver. In rare cases, hepatitis C can be transmitted through sexual activity, but the risk is considered low, especially for monogamous couples. Sexual transmission requires contact with blood during sex, such as during rough sex or if one person has an open sore or wound. Most cases of hepatitis C have no symptoms and occurred due to contact with infected blood from needles shared during drug use.

Dr. Bonnie Lynn Wright, PhD
Geriatrics Nursing Specialist

Hepatitis B is sexually transmitted. Vaccines are available and should be taken to prevent this particular Hepatitis. Hepatitis A is transmitted through food-borne contamination. However, it can be transmitted during any sexual activity where the mouth/tongue contacts the anus of someone who is a carrier or has Hep A. There is vaccine to prevent Hep A as well as a combined vaccine for Hep A and B together. Hep C is a blood-borne disease. It can only be transmitted sexually if the activity is rough enough to abrade the genital mucosa and allow blood transfer. Nonetheless, statistics have shown that the long term sexual partners of Hep C sufferers can become Hep C positive after 15 to 20 years. Some public health systems provide Hepatitis B vaccine free through public elementary schools with parents' consent. There is combined Hepatitis A and B vaccine that is highly recommended for men having sex with men (MSM). Oral-anal activity increases the risk of getting Hepatitis A for MSMs.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.