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A Journal on Internal Medicine
Indexed/Abstracted in: BIOSIS Previews, Current Contents/Clinical Medicine, EMBASE, PubMed/MEDLINE, Science Citation Index Expanded (SciSearch), Scopus
Impact Factor 1,6
Panminerva Medica 2001 December;43(4):229-31
Sexual transmission of hepatitis C virus: the Turin study
Sciacca C., Pellicano R. *, Berrutti M. *, Smedile A. *, Durazzo M. *, Palmas P. *, Palmas F. *, Rizzetto M. *
From the Institute of Internal Medicine and Emergency Medicine Santa Marta Hospital, University of Catania, Catania, Italy
*UOADU Gastro-Hepatology San Giovanni Battista Hospital (Molinette), Turin, Italy
Background. Hepatitis C virus infection (HCV) is a major cause of chronic liver disease with the risk of evolution towards hepatic cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Numerous studies have documented the possibility of HCV transmission through blood transfusions during surgery or during intravenous drug use. The percentage of the risk of sexual transmission, in the general population not presenting the aforesaid risks is still very controversial. The aim of this study was to evaluate the concomitant levels of seropositivity for anti-HCV, in the partners of patients with chronic HCV liver disease, but no history of previous transfusions or use of intravenous drugs.
Methods. The study included 196 anti-HCV positive spouses with a clinical diagnosis of active chronic hepatitis, aged between 20 and 75 years (mean age 53 years, SD±11 years). HCV infection was diagnosed by positivity of serum samples for anti HCV (EIA), confirmed by RIBA II and by circulating HCV-RNA detected by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). All partners underwent anti-HCV assay (EIA), confirmed by RIBA II in the event of positivity.
Results. The mean period of cohabitation was 27 years (range 3-37, SD±9.8 years). The positivity of anti HCV in both subjects affected 11 couples (5.6%). Of these couples, the viral genotype was also available in 3 cases which proved to be identical in the index patient and the partner, whereas it was not possible to identify the genotype in other couples owing to scarce compliance.
Conclusions. The data obtained from this study confirm the possibility of the sexual transmission of HCV. However, in the context of subjects not belonging to “high risk” groups, this method of transmission does not appear to be important if compared with that of other viruses (HBV and HIV).