OBJECTIVES: To assess current knowledge about the potential for sexual transmission of the hepatitis viruses A-E and G and how to prevent any such transmission. METHOD: A search of published literature identified through Medline 1966-June 1998 (Ovid v 3.0), the Cochrane Library and reference lists taken from each article obtained. Textword and MeSH searches for hepatitis A, B, C, D, E, G, delta, GB virus, GBV-C were linked to searches under the textword terms sex$, vaccine$, prevent$, and MeSH subheadings, epidemiology, transmission, prevention, and control. CONCLUSIONS: There is evidence for heterosexual transmission of hepatitis B, C, D, and G and homosexual transmission of hepatitis A-D and G. Condoms are an effective method for preventing transmission by penetrative vaginal or anal sex although spread of types A and B are linked also to oro-anal sex. Hepatitis types A and B can be prevented by pre- and post-exposure active or passive immunisation. There is still some uncertainty about appropriate target groups for pre-exposure vaccination, particularly against hepatitis A.
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