Daniel F. Schafer

Scholar: 1983

Awarded Institution
Professor of Medicine
University of Nebraska
Department of Internal Medicine


Research Interests

Spouses of patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) are at increased risk of acquiring the virus, and the risk goes up as time goes by, Taiwanese researchers reported. Dr. Ding-Shinn Chen and colleagues of the National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, studied 100 anti-HCV positive index patients and their spouses. "Chronic HCV infection was defined by a positive reaction for second-generation anti-HCV assay ... for at least six months," Chen said (Am J Gastroenterol 1996;91:2069-2070,2087-2090). Seventeen spouses (17 percent) were anti-HCV positive, and 15 of them were also positive for hepatitis C virus RNA. In addition, 11 couples were infected with the same genotype. Couples married longer than 20 years had a 22 percent rate of infection, compared to 6 percent for couples married less than 20 years. Chen found that "the infected couples had more frequent sexual contacts and more commonly shared toothbrushes than those with uninfected spouses." Because risk of transmission increases over time, Chen's team concluded that spouses of chronic hepatitis C virus patients should be "... followed regularly for HCV markers and ... educated about how to prevent contraction of HCV infection." In a related editorial, Drs. Timothy M. McCashland and Daniel F. Schafer, University of Nebraska, Omaha, spelled out those prevention measures. Sharing of personal hygiene items that could be contaminated with blood should be avoided; sexual activity should be restricted if bleeding (menstruation, hematuria) is present; routine condom use is not recommended, although couples should weigh the consequences of HCV infection "... to decide if the risk is sufficient to consider use of condoms." [11-04-96 at 13:40 EST, Copyright 1996, Charles Henderson] Contact: Hepatitis Weekly