New evidence reported yesterday by New York City researchers shows the hepatitis C virus can be transmitted through sexual activity.  The virus was normally believed to be transmitted exclusively through blood – such as sharing needles.  However, new statistics show it is becoming prevalent amongst gay men.  

The first two sexually transmitted cases of hepatitis C are believed to have been discovered in 2005.  Dr. Daniel Fierer of Mount Sinai School of Medicine and his colleagues observed these two cases.  The team reported Thursday that there are now 74 cases.  In all cases, the men said they were sexually active, but had not participated in intravenous drug abuse. 

Hepatitis C, commonly known as HCV, can cause liver disease and even death if untreated.  There are no symptoms of HCV, however; severe disease can be encountered and therefore, a liver transplant  is required. 

Around 3.2 million Americans have hepatitis C.  More information on the study and hepatitis C can be found in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

(Pictured above is former Beach Boys members, David Marks, who lived with hepatitis C for years after contracting the disease as a drug user.)