How hepatitis C is transmitted


Important messages
- Hepatitis C can live in blood, sperm, rectal fluid and poo particles (feces). Blood particles aren’t always visible.
- Hepatitis C can spread through the residue of lube from anal sex.
- The virus appears able to survive for up to six weeks at room temperature on steel, plastic and rubber, and in lube.
- As a top, you can transfer the virus from one bottom to the next without being aware of it.
- Wounds or damage to the mucous membrane can make it easier for hepatitis C to enter the body.
- Damage occurs quite easily during anal sex. STIs can also cause minor injuries or sores.
- Taking chems through the ass affects your mucous membranes, which makes hepatitis C transmission easier.
- Sharing drug-taking equipment also carries a risk of hepatitis C transmission.

What are the risk factors?

Scientific research has identified a number of risk factors for the transmission of hepatitis C.

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Risk factors for hepatitis C

Dutch researchers did a study among HIV positive men with and without hepatitis C. From the results they were able to identify a number of significant risk factors connected to hepatitis C. According to the study, there’s a higher risk if

  • you are fucked without a condom
  • you fist or are fisted without gloves
  • you share toys (“sharing” includes using other people's toys)
  • you have syphilis, herpes or LGV
  • you inject (“slam”) drugs
  • you share straws or other snorting equipment

Dutch researchers identified these risk factors by asking HIV positive men (with and without hepatitis C) about their sex lives.

Note: these risk factors have been identified with the help of a long list of questions. However, the questions did not cover every single situation. For example, there were no questions about:
- sharing lube, or towels/sling/mattress with lube residue
- sharing anal douches
- group sex or sex parties

Scientifically speaking, we can’t say if these situations increase the risk of hepatitis C transmission, because the scientists didn’t ask about them. On the other hand, it is not inconceivable that these situations pose a risk of hepatitis C.

Where does the virus live?

Hepatitis C can live in blood, sperm, rectal fluid and poo particles. Hepatitis C can spread through the residue of lube from anal sex.

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Contact with blood
Hepatitis C is transmitted through contact with blood, among other ways.

  • This can happen, for instance, if a bruise or cut on your hand bleeds during sex.
  • Or if you are a bottom: when you bleed (invisibly) during long and hard fucking, fisting or ass play with dildos/toys. You usually won’t notice if small blood vessels in your ass bleed.

Blood particles in lube
If someone bleeds, you will probably not see that in the used lubricant. But the lube could contain tiny blood particles. This lube may then end up

  • on your cock, pubic hair or balls
  • on your hands or forearms (when fucking or fisting)
  • on dildos/toys
  • on the towel, play sheet or sling on which you lay when you are bottom

Particles of dried blood
Hepatitis C differs from HIV because it can survive outside the body for quite a long time. When the virus is present in particles of dried blood, it seems able to survive for up to six weeks at room temperature on materials such as steel, plastic and rubber.

For example think of fuck benches and play sheets (plastic sheets for covering beds, sofas or mattresses during sex to protect against lube stains).

Or think of a sling. When we talk about the sling, we don’t mean just the sling mat. The virus may be present on the frame and chains as well, if these parts have been touched with lubed fingers during sex.

Studies show that hepatitis C can sometimes be present in sperm. The chance of this is greater in cases of recent infection. When having anal sex there is risk if you get sperm in or on your ass.

  • It is not known if the virus can live in pre-ejaculate. Oral sex without coming is low-risk, though.
  • Felching is licking sperm from someone’s ass. If someone felches a person and after that starts licking your ass, this could be risky for you if there still is sperm in or around his mouth.

Rectal fluid
Some men with hepatitis C have the virus in their rectal fluid (intestinal mucus) and in their feces.

Could this mean rimming (= licking ass) is risky for the person who is rimming? No, so far there is no proof that hepatitis C could be transmitted this way.

Not in spit or urine
Hepatitis C is not present in spit or urine.

  • That means it is safe to drink from each other's glasses and to tongue with your partners. Water sports (golden shower) is safe too.
  • Rimming (with lots of spit) is not risky for the bottom, except when the person who is rimming has bleeding gums and the blood ends up in his spit.

The top as the “vector” (carrier) of the virus

If you’re a bottom, you can get hepatitis C from another bottom during a sex party without having sex with him.

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A 'shared' top can transfer the virus to you from someone else via lube residue on his fingers, hands, forearms or cock.

So this is important to remember when you're the top. Without knowing it, you can become a "vector" (carrier) of the virus.

  • Wash your crotch properly with mild soap or wash gel and rinse with lots of water before fucking the next partner.
  • Wash and disinfect your hands and forearms before fisting the next partner.

Note: The text continues below this comic strip.

Damage, wounds and sores from anal sex

Wounds, sores or other damage to the mucous membrane make it easier for hepatitis C to enter the body. Injuries can happen easily during anal sex. STIs can also cause minor damage or sores.

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It’s easier for hepatitis C to enter the body when the mucous membrane in your ass is damaged, which can occur during

  • anal douching
  • long (and/or hard) fucking
  • fisting
  • ass play with dildos and other toys
  • booty bumping (= taking chems through the ass)

Hepatitis C also enters the body more easily through wounds and sores caused by

  • other STIs
  • medical treatment to the anus. Perhaps you’ve had a wart or haemorrhoid removed, or had a biopsy taken because you were tested for AIN (= precursors to anal cancer).

Sharing drug-taking equipment

The virus can survive for a long time on the tools you use to snort, smoke, booty bump or slam chems.

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Snorting, smoking and booty bumping
There is a risk of hepatitis C when you

  • share snorting straws, snorting spoons, bullets (and other snorting tools)
    Snorting drugs/chems can cause minor bleeds in the nose. You may not even notice these bleeds. When this happens, blood particles containing hepatitis C can stick to the straw or whatever you use to snort.
  • share meth pipes for smoking tina
    The heat of the pipe, and getting dry lips by drinking too little could create small cracks in your lips. If blood particles are on the mouthpiece, these cracks make you more vulnerable to getting hepatitis C.
  • share syringes for booty bumping (= taking chems through the ass)
    A used syringe could contain (invisible) blood particles with hepatitis C.

If you slam (= inject drugs), you run the risk of transmitting viruses like hepatitis C when you share

  • needles and syringes
  • water for dissolving chems
  • stericups (= sterile cups for dissolving chems)
  • filters
  • cotton balls for stopping bleeds
  • alcohol wipes
  • tourniquets
  • the cups/containers you put your syringes in

    Make sure someone else doesn't prick himself on your needle or using your things. Provide a sharps container and use your own color straws, syringes and steric cups. Get the free NoMoreC Toolbox (max. 1 per person). The Toolbox contains examples of means to reduce the risk of hepatitis C. Also in case you use chems. For example, the Toolbox contains a sharps container and drug equipment in different colors. Do you want to order seperate items online? Read here where you can go.

You can see the second part of both comic strips when you go to the next page 'Reduce the risk of transmission' with the orange button below.