In this study, physicians from Italy evaluated the risk of sexual transmission of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in 895 monogamous heterosexual partners of HCV chronically infected individuals.
The team performed a long-term prospective study, which provided a follow-up period of 8,060 person-years.
Overall, 776 spouses were followed for 10 years. This corresponded to 7760 person-years of observation.
|3 HCV infections were observed during follow-up.|
|American Journal of Gastroenterology|
All couples denied practicing anal intercourse or sex during menstruation. They also denied condom use.
The average weekly rate of sexual intercourse was 1.8.
The physicians observed 3 HCV infections during follow-up. This was an incidence rate of 0.37 per 1000 person-years.
However, the team determined that the infecting genotype in 1 spouse was different to that of their partner, thus excluding sexual transmission.
The remaining 2 couples had concordant genotypes. However, the physicians found, using sequence and phylogenetic analyses, that the corresponding partners carried different viral isolates. This excluded the possibility of intraspousal transmission.
Dr Carmen Vandelli and colleagues concluded, "Our data indicate that the risk of sexual transmission of HCV within heterosexual monogamous couples is extremely low or even null".
"No general recommendations for condom use seem required for individuals in monogamous partnerships with HCV-infected partners".