IMPORTANT NOTICE: These “Fast Facts” are presented from a fister’s point of view only. They are not intended to be medical advice or to serve as a substitute for the advice of a competent medical doctor. Please use these facts and the links to other resources as a springboard for your own research into these important issues. The information that follows is not at all inclusive, or the only viewpoint available. You should familiarize yourself with the risks associated with these conditions, means of transmission, and methods for prevention and make your own informed decisions regarding acceptable means for protecting yourself and your health.
Hepatitis C (and a bit about A & B)
Any sexual activity carries a risk of transmission of HIV or STIs. However, fisting is, in my opinion, one of the safest forms of sex–if you follow proper guidelines. The colon is lined with millions of tiny capillaries which are extremely close to the surface of the intestine. They are extremely susceptible to rupture during play. Overly rambunctious play, sharp fingernails or an inexperienced top can and do increase the likelihood of rupture.
There is a risk of hepatitis A, B and C infection.
Hepatitis A is transmitted through ingestion of something that has been contaminate by fecal matter. Washing hands thoroughly and use of hand sanitizer is not only recommended, but mandatory.
Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with infectious blood, semen, and other body fluids, from having sex with an infected person, sharing contaminated needles to inject drugs, or from an infected mother to her newborn.
Hepatitis C is most commonly transmitted when the blood of an infected person enters the body of an uninfected person–during fisting–through small scratches in the colon and open wounds in the top’s hands. Hepatitis C, unlike HIV which is a very fragile virus, is extremely hearty. Hepatitis C can live–and be contagious–for up to four (4) days in dried blood on an exposed surface such as a sling, counter top, floor, or bed sheets.
Vaccines are available to prevent transmission of Hepatitis A and B. There is currently no vaccine to prevent transmission of C. If you are sexually active it is an excellent idea to take the hepatitis A and B vaccines and to add the test for hepatitis C to the battery of tests for HIV and STIs. Current experts in the field of prevention recommend testing every three months if you are sexually active with multiple partners. There is a high degree of success of cure for hepatitis C (between 50% and 80%) if the infection is caught early. Unlike other forms of hepatitis, exposure to C does not result in the development of antibodies to the virus. This means that even though you have been exposed, you may continue to be contagious to others and to carry the active virus in your body. GET TESTED!
Remarkably, there is currently considerable debate among doctors and public health officials as to whether Hepatitis C is sexually transmitted! As fisters we know (or should know) that at least through fisting, it can be. Currently, neither the SF City Clinic, nor Magnet, offer testing for Hepatitis C to anyone other than intervenous drug users (or others who inject drugs), so unless you are willing to put yourself into that category to get tested at one of these sites, the only alternative is through your private physician.
Unfortunately, testing for Hepatitis C is completely off the radar for most physicians, unless you happen to be HIV+ in which case your doctor is probably recommending an annual Hep C test. If you are negative, insist that your doctor include testing for Hepatitis C the next time you get your regular HIV and STD screening. You may be carrying Hep C–and exposing other people–and not even know it.
Some Links You Should Check Out: