Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions
Can someone with genital herpes catch hepatitis C?
Linda Lesondak, PhD on August 8, 2011
To answer your question directly, yes: someone with herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) can absolutely get hepatitis C (HCV) from someone infected with the virus. Unfortunately, having one virus won’t increase your immune response to the other. In fact, as a general rule, someone who has one STD is at greater risk for infection with other STDs…because, for example, open lesions from herpes make transmission of other STDs more likely.
That said, a little more information about HCV might be helpful to you:
Anyone can get hepatitis C...usually through contact with the blood of an infected person. The most common risk factors for HCV are unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex with someone who is infected, sharing drug needles or cocaine straws, or sharing needles for tattooing, acupuncture or piercings. Sharing toothbrushes, razors or other things that could have contaminated blood on them also puts you at risk.
What about Herpes Simplex Virus 2 (HSV-2)? How is it transmitted? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, genital herpes and oral herpes are among the most common and contagious STDs. Genital herpes is often caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) but can also be caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). It’s usually passed from person to person through skin-to-skin contact...including kissing or sexual activity with a person who has sores on the genital area or the mouth. You can learn more about herpes risks, symptoms, testing and treatment in the Expert Guide to Herpes 1 + 2.
People can help protect themselves from hepatitis C by avoiding risky behaviors like unprotected sex and drug use. Safer sex practices–using a latex condom or a dental dam with every sexual encounter–can go a long way to help prevent STDs. And intraveneous drug users can also help protect themselves from HCV by never sharing needles. To learn more about HCV, I hope you’ll take a little time to read through our Expert Guide to Hepatitis C.
Finally, getting tested for hepatitis C, herpes and other STDs is the only way to know your STD status. If you already have herpes and you’re worried about hepatitis C, getting tested is the only way to know for sure. Getting tested is especially important for people with herpes becauseherpes also increases susceptibility to HIV infection when exposed to the HIV virus.
Hopefully this information is helpful to you. I wish you the best of health.
Dr. Lesondak is a Community Psychologist with the Chicago Department of Public Health. Her areas of expertise include STDs, HIV, preventive care, public health and community planning, as well as human sexuality and women’s health. Dr. Lesondak was educated at Georgia University in Atlanta.