Whilst there are not many gender-based differences in the symptoms produced by Hepatitis C, the effects of Hep C are basically the same for women and men, it is worth noting that gay men are much more likely to contract Hepatitis C through sex than heterosexual men or women.
The reason for this is that anal sex gives an increased risk of contracting hepatitis C because the tissues of the anus are relatively fragile and so are more likely to tear and bleed during sex. Because there does not need to be a lot of blood to pass on the HCV virus even minute tears in the skin that don’t appear to bleed can be enough for transmission.
So how is hepatitis C spread?
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne disease, which means that you can only catch it through contact with blood that contains the Hep C virus. That is to say blood from someone who is infected with HCV. Blood-to-blood contact can occur in a number of different ways, including anal sex but extremely rarely through vaginal sex.
There must be blood involved to become infected with Hepatitis C so things such as:
Stages of Hepatitis C.
The Acute Infection
The first six months of hepatitis C infection is called the acute stage. Sometimes there are no obvious symptoms in the acute stage but often there are symptoms that are fleeting as your body’s immune system battles with the Hep C virus. In the acute stage, the first 6 months, there is about a 25% chance for your body to clear the virus with your own immune system.
Symptoms of an acute hepatitis C infection
The word Acute may make this stage of the Hep C infection sound very serious but there are often only mild symptoms. If you do start having symptoms they are usually:
Usually symptoms start around seven weeks after exposure to the virus. Some people already get symptoms after two weeks and others as late as 26 weeks after infection.
If your body fails to clear the virus after six months, in the “acute” phase, then you enter into what is called a ‘chronic infection’. Many people do not notice any obvious symptoms of their Hep C infection in the early stages of the chronic infection however this will change over time. Sometimes symptoms may not appear in an obvious way for 10 to 40 years after contracting Hep C. However during this time the virus is certainly and continually causing liver damage, which eventually becomes severe. This liver damage causes inflammation and scarring of the liver, making it difficult for the liver to function properly.
Hepatitis C Symptoms in Men in the Chronic Stage
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 3 million people in the United States have Hepatitis C and more than 100 million have Hep C worldwide. The concerning thing about this is that many of these people don’t know they have Hep C because they may not recognise the symptoms.
According to the CDC, men who have sex with other men have a higher risk of contracting hepatitis C. However, practicing safe sex and taking other health precautions can reduce this risk.
Hepatitis C in Men
Men’s immune systems are less likely than women to be able to fight off the hepatitis C virus once they’ve been infected. According to studies, men have about a 20% chance of clearing the virus whereas women have about a 30% chance. “Clearing” the virus refers to the body’s ability to remove the Hep C virus from the body.