ZocdocAnswersCan you get herpes or hepatitis C in the lungs from sharing rolled cigarettes?

Question

Can you get herpes or hepatitis C in the lungs from sharing rolled cigarettes?

When cigaretts are rolled the paper is licked to seal it. Your essentially smoking someone's saliva. Could the viral particles survive the combustion and be found in the smoke?

Answer

The transmission of herpes and hepatitis C is slightly different, and I recommend you discuss your concern with your doctor. Hepatitis C is typically spread by bodily fluids, specifically blood and semen/vaginal secretions. Hepatitis C is very typically transmitted through contaminated needles (and historically, contaminated blood, though that is much less common now); it is much less common to get hepatitis C through intercourse, and it is not transmitted through saliva. This means you are safe to kiss and share cigarettes with someone with hepatitis C without concern. Herpes, on the other hand, is transmitted through saliva and direct contact with mucous membranes. People infected with the herpes virus (which can either be type I or type II, which respectively typically involve the mouth or the genitals) shed virus at the highest rate when they have active sores, but may also shed the virus without any active symptoms (called asymptomatic shedding). Though the exact risk is unknown, it is theoretically possible to get oral herpes by sharing a cigarette with someone with oral herpes, particularly if the infected person has active sores. Smoking the cigarette and inhaling it is unlikely to pose any additional risk, especially if you have a normal immune system. All this being said, oral herpes is very common - about 70% of adults have already been exposed, and if you have ever had a cold sore you may very well have this condition already. I would strongly encourage you to go to your doctor to discuss this further and any specific symptoms or concerns you may have.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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