Regarding “Can Hepatitis C Be Sexually Transmitted?” in the November+December 2014 issue:
On page 28 the author writes, “We know that HCV is present in blood, but there is no evidence that it is found in semen....” On page 29 the author writes, “Some studies have found HCV in semen, while others have not.” The author contradicts himself within two pages. There may be no conclusive or indisputable evidence that HCV is found in semen, but if “some studies have found HCV in semen” then it is false to write that “there is no evidence that [HCV] is found in semen.”
On page 30, conspicuously absent from the box “What activities increase the risk of sexually transmitted HCV?” is anal sex without a condom. On page 31 in the box “How to reduce your risk for hepatitis C,” point 3 is “wear a condom for anal sex.” Clearly, the author indicates in the box on page 31 that he knows that use of a condom during anal sex can reduce risk for sexual transmission of hepatitis C. He should have included in the box on page 30 anal sex without a condom as an activity that increases risk for sexual transmission of hepatitis C.
Additionally, thank you for the photographs and stories included in “A Day with HIV.” They are valuable as they ask us to remember the many people affected by this disease and remind us not to focus exclusively on T-cells and antiretrovirals.
—Carl Stein, MHS, PAC, AAHIVS
Owen Medical Group
San Francisco, CA
Andrew Reynolds responds:
Dear Carl and other readers,
Thank you for the careful reading and feedback on the article “Can Hepatitis C Be Sexually Transmitted?” You are absolutely correct in my contradiction on pages 28 and 29. I should have written that “HCV has been found infrequently in semen and vaginal fluids” or that it is “intermittently found in sexual fluids.” I’m honestly not sure how that got past me, so I am grateful for the catch. We will fix this in the online version.
As to the box on page 30, my intention was to include activities in conjunction with condomless anal sex that increase a person’s risk for sexual transmission of HCV. I will work with the editors at Positively Aware to make sure the online version clarifies that to avoid confusion.
I am so grateful that you have this program to send magazines to positive people who can’t afford a subscription. I’ve been incarcerated for a year and I’m so out of the loop on info, the new treatments and discoveries. Also, the connection with the positive community represented by your magazine was such an inspiration and source of strength and belonging. I miss that so much. Please know that all the hard work that goes into compiling such a class A magazine is not overlooked. May you be blessed.
I am currently incarcerated at Collins Correctional Facility in Collins, New York. I want to tell how I was a target of HIV stigma (“Have you ever been the target of HIV stigma or discrimination?” poll, September+October 2014). It started right in my own neighborhood after I disclosed to someone who I thought was a friend. He eventually told some of the other people in the neighborhood, whose cars and homes I would work on, and they started to discriminate. They would no longer shake my hand and wouldn’t even allow me in their homes anymore. It angered me because it was clear that my community lacked education on HIV and how it’s transmitted or even how it’s prevented.