infected each year. That risk runs to up to 10 percent if a relationship lasts over several decades. Most federal health agencies advise monogamous couples in which one partner has hepatitis C not to change their sexual behavior because of the virus.
People who have multiple sex partners should always use a condom. Scientists don’t know for certain that condoms can block HCV transmission.
But they do block sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS. If you have HCV and have sex with multiple partners, it is essential to use a condom.
In about 10 to 30 percent of cases, doctors are unable to reliably identify the way hepatitis C was transmitted.
This doesn’t mean the virus is spreading in some way scientists haven’t identified. It means instead that doctors are sometimes unable to identify which of the known modes of transmission may have spread the virus to a certain patient.
Preventing the spread
The more we know about HCV, the better equipped we are to prevent its spread. By identifying the virus and developing tests to detect it, researchers have almost completely eliminated transmission through blood transfusions and organ transplants, for instance.
Substance abuse programs, including information about the dangers of sharing needles and programs that provide free disposable needles, may account for the recent decline of HCV among intravenous drug users. Researchers hope to find ways to reduce the risk to newborns born to HCV-positive mothers, as well.