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Those With Infected Spouses

Hi All,

My wife recently tested positive for Hep C antibodies during a routine physical. While my heart breaks for her, I'm very happy we live in a time where it's a very curable illness. We have been married for over 40 years with no children. It is likely she's had it for 25+ years. Her doctor requested I come in later this week for an antibody/PCR test to see if I'm infected as well. I'm new to the site, but have read about others who were married for decades where their spouse was infected, and they, as well as their children never contracted the virus. Her doctor claimed that this is the case a lot more often than one would think, but I'm still a little nervous for several reasons.

We have shared everything, including razors, toothbrushes, etc. She had surgery at one point and I most certainly came in contact with her blood while changing bandages many times. We have also had sex while she was menstruating several times. We've popped each others pimples and bandaged each others cuts. I love her more than anything and we'll hold each others' hands through this regardless of the outcome, but the more I read on the internet, the more I become nervous.

I guess what I'm getting at here is I find it fascinating how infectious much of the internet makes it seem, however there are people who lived with infected spouses for decades, partaking in intimate acts such as we did, where contraction never occurred. So for those in my shoes, could you please share your experiences with me, and any and all details regarding possible exposures to your spouses' blood where infection did not occur? Thank you to all and anyone who responds. You are all amazing, beautiful people and give me and my wife the strength to get through this.

Best wishes.
2 Responses
Avatar universal
It's always a good ideal for a spouse to be tested. I take it you are saying your doctor thinks it not common for a spouse to infect the other. If so I would agree with him 100%.

As for some things you read on the internet? Well a lot of this stuff comes from people that does not have a clue. Hep C is not something that passes from person to person easily.

Personally I was married with two children for many many years before being Dx with Hep C and she was tested and did not have it. I think you will find here that is by far the way it is.

Treating and cure rates have never been better. One thing I would suggest is that you have a doctor that has a lot of knowledge treating the virus.

Best to both of you, try not to worry to much.
683231 tn?1467323017

I am sure that everyone in long term relationships have all done similar things like the occasional sharing of a razor or toothbrush as well as having intercourse while the wife is menstruating. no one here that I am aware of has reported passing hep c in this situation. I am not sure of the stats but between monogamous couples who do not participate in "rough sex" the CDC does not recommend the use of barrier protection (i.e. condoms) because the risk of infection is so low.

The internet is full of a LOT of misinformation about hep c. Hep c is not easily transmitted. Yes there is a risk of the types of activities you mention but it is small but still worth discussing as the risk is not zero.

Just to add that even in the situation of a health care worker experiencing an accidental needle stick with a patient who has known hep c infection the risk is only 1.5% so you can see the risk of sharing a razor or fingernail clippers would be that much less.

Your doctor has recommended you be tested as a standard good protocol but the odds you have hep c from contact with your wife is very low.

Another point is baby boomers are encouraged to be tested as that is a group of many who do not know they are infected. This way if you do have hep c for what ever reason you can also be treated before hep c can cause any real damage

OK I did find this from the national Institute of health

"Lack of evidence of sexual transmission of hepatitis C among monogamous couples: results of a 10-year prospective follow-up study."

"The risk of sexual transmission of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection was evaluated among 895 monogamous heterosexual partners of HCV chronically infected individuals in a long-term prospective study, which provided a follow-up period of 8,060 person-years. Seven hundred and seventy-six (86.7%) spouses were followed for 10 yr, corresponding to 7,760 person-years of observation. One hundred and nineteen (13.3%) spouses (69 whose infected partners cleared the virus following treatment and 50 who ended their relationship or were lost at follow-up) contributed an additional 300 person-years. All couples denied practicing anal intercourse or sex during menstruation, as well as condom use. The average weekly rate of sexual intercourse was 1.8. Three HCV infections were observed during follow-up corresponding to an incidence rate of 0.37 per 1,000 person-years. However, the infecting HCV genotype in one spouse (2a) was different from that of the partner (1b), clearly excluding sexual transmission. The remaining two couples had concordant genotypes, but sequence analysis of the NS5b region of the HCV genome, coupled with phylogenetic analysis showed that the corresponding partners carried different viral isolates, again excluding the possibility of intraspousal transmission of HCV. 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."

Hope that helps some but in any event you will know soon

Best to you both
Thank you so much for your kind and detailed response. What a fascinating bit of information there. I had my blood taken Friday afternoon, so I should have the results by Tuesday or Wednesday. A common question about the virus I've stumbled across is how long it lives outside the body. I've noticed that for things like HIV/HCV, the CDC claims the virus can live for many hours to weeks, HCV living longer than HIV. In regards to HIV, the experts on this site say the virus dies immediately when exposed to open air, directly contradicting what the CDC said. Our current doctor isn't an HCV expert specifically, but is very knowledgeable on infectious diseases, and he claims the CDC figures are absurdly conservative and that HCV in reality can't live outside the body for more than 5 minutes tops. He said those were studies where they controlled for specific environmental conditions that the virus could thrive in, and that changes in simple chemistry like pH, temperature, and exposure to oxygen start to kill it immediately. Do you know any specifics on this or agree with this? I feel like this might explain why myself, as well as multiple others in long term relationships haven't contracted the disease, regardless of exposure to their blood, such as when my wife had surgery.
The reason you likely do not have hep c is because simple hep c is not that easily transmitted. Hep c infected blood must enter your blood stream. As far a how long hep c can live outside the body I tend to go with the CDC as they are the experts.
"According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HCV can survive on environmental surfaces at room temperature for at least 16 hours but no longer than four days."

But of course that is undisturbed environmental surfaces at the best possible temperature and even so that blood still has to come into contact with your blood.

As I mentioned above even if you accidentally stuck yourself with a sharp object contaminated with hep c infected blood the odds of transmission are very low.

Best to you and your wife
Thanks so much for the response, once again. Sorry, I reposted my follow up question as another question. Please disregard that. Thank you so much again, best wishes to you.
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