Can Saliva Transmit Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C (HCV) is the most prevalent liver disease in the world. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 20-30% of people with chronic hepatitis C will actually face life-threatening symptoms. Astoundingly, unidentified sources of infection account for a large percentage of Hepatitis C cases. Most of these unidentified sources are believed to be the result of contact with contaminated blood, the virus's primary mode of transmission. However, of those that are not attributed to blood to blood contact, some unknown cases may possibly be the consequence of salivary transmission. While other body fluids may rightfully raise some concern, such as urine, semen, and vaginal fluids, studies show that these substances must contain traces of infected blood for contamination to take place.

Although the virus's physical measurements are tiny, its concentration is intense. In fact, compared to HIV, the concentration of the Hepatitis C virus in one drop of infected blood is much higher. Unlike HIV and other viruses, direct or indirect contact with contaminated blood (such as a toothbrush) yields the Hepatitis C virus transmissible. As a precaution, individuals with HCV are asked not to share personal items where traces of their contaminated blood may remain.

Despite continued uncertainty, some researchers have found evidence in support of HCV being transmitted via saliva. That is, if it's under the right circumstances. For instance, recent research shows that Hepatitis C is only found in the saliva of individuals with high viral loads. It may be possible for individuals with high viral loads to transmit the Hepatitis C virus through kissing, but the exact risk involved has yet to be determined. Research shows that both people would need to have gum disease in order for transmission to occasion.

Click here to learn more about the potential to transmit Hepatitis C through salivary contact.