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Transmission (HCV); "Is the Sexual Transmission of HCV Real?."

Source: Infectious Disease Weekly

Infectious Disease Weekly via Individual Inc. :
According to an abstract submitted by the authors to the 46th Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, held November 3- 7, 1995, in Chicago, Illinois, "Interspousal transmission of hepatitis C virus (HCV) is reportedly suggested, although debated, in 5 to 10% of spouses. To address this issue, we have identified, in a cohort of 1,273 anti-HCV positive patients, 24 couples in whom each spouse was anti-HCV positive. An epidemiological and virological retrospective analysis was performable in 20 couples. The 40 spouses (mean age: 38 years) were living together since a mean of 8 years. An associated HIV infection was present in 6. HCV RNA was detected, by nested PCR, in 35 of these 40 subjects (89.7%). A concordance of HCV genotypes, as assessed by the LIPA procedure, was observed in 9/20 couples; twelve spouses of 6 couples were infected by non-concordant genotypes and genotype comparison was not evaluable in five couples in whom one of the spouses was HCV RNA negative. Among the 9 couples with concordant genotypes, a meticulous interview undoubtedly identified a risk factor of contamination other than sexual in 16 of the 18 spouses: intravenous drug use in 15, blood transfusion in one. Only 2 spouses had no other risk but sexual. Three of the 5 couples in whom HCV RNA was negative in one of spouses had other risk factors of contamination than sexual. The results of the sequences analysis will be provided but high sequences homologies would not ascertain the precise mechanisms of transmission. In conclusion: in anti-HCV positive couples, genotypes are concordant in less than an half of the patients. A meticulous interview frequently identifies other than sexual risk factors of contamination, thus suggesting that sexual transmission of HCV is indeed anecdotical, at least in low endemic areas of HCV."

AUTHORS: S. Poll, G. Squadriko, V. Thiers, P. Berthelot and C. Brechot. Liver Unit and INSERM U-370, Hopital Necker; Hybridotest, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France.

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