This study was performed to determine the risk of family members of anti-hepatitis C virus (HCV)-positive hemophilia patients (index patients) for infection with HCV compared with the risk of acquiring hepatitis B virus (HBV), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection. All index patients (n = 141) were found to be positive by first and second generation anti-HCV enzyme immunoassays (EIAs). Among their household contacts (n = 228), 224 were negative and 1 positive by both assays. Three contacts gave positive results in first generation anti-HCV EIA and negative results in second generation assay. This latter result was confirmed by further tests (neutralization test, synthetic peptides, and supplemental assay). Percent positivity for anti-HBc was about the same in non-sexual household contacts and sexual partners (13 of 109 [12%] and 7 of 54 [13%], respectively). Percent prevalence of anti-HBc was higher in contacts of index patients with chronic hepatitis B than in those of index patients who had recovered from that disease (6 of 20 [30%] and 14 of 133 [10%], respectively; P < .05). The HBV infection rate of contacts participating in controlled self-treatment was not higher than that of controls (3 of 57 [5%] and 10 of 98 [10%], respectively). Of 44 sexual partners, 5 (11%) were found to be positive for anti-HIV. Prevalence of anti-HAV matched with the age-related distribution in the German population. These findings suggest that intrafamilial transmission of HCV to family members of hemophilia patients is uncommon. In contacts of hemophilia patients, the risk of acquiring HBV infection seems to be as high in household contacts as in sexual contacts. Participation in controlled self-treatment does not appear to be an additional risk for HCV and HBV infection. There is no doubt that sexual transmission of HCV is less common than that of HBV and HIV.

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