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Telling Your Date You Have Hepatitis C

Nicole Cutler L.Ac. November 15, 2013

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When should you tell your date you have Hepatitis C… and what do you say?
Telling Your Date You Have Hep C

Dating is hard enough on its own. It’s even more challenging when navigating the dating world with Hepatitis C. There is a certain degree of trust that is needed to be vulnerable and share personal health information with someone – a trust that might not have developed yet when first dating. However, those with this illness have an ethical responsibility to disclose their Hepatitis C infection once a certain line has been crossed. This discussion about telling your date you have Hepatitis C is intended to help you determine where that line is and how to approach it.

Although there are several dating sites that seek to match up the Hepatitis C community, a majority of people will meet elsewhere. Some websites are dedicated solely to Hepatitis C dating, but most mix Hepatitis C with herpes and other common STDs. If your date was not introduced to you under the premise that you have Hepatitis C, navigating this disclosure can be a source of stress. Being prepared and comfortable with how to proceed can remove a lot of the fear and stress from the Hepatitis C conversation.

Things to consider include:

  • Most healthcare providers do not consider Hepatitis C to be a sexually transmitted disease because the risk of acquiring this virus via sexual contact is extremely slim. Experts estimate that less than 1 percent of monogamous, sexually active couples where one person has Hepatitis C pass the virus on to their partner. Nonetheless, any activity that exposes a sexual partner to blood could potentially spread Hepatitis C.
  • Any relationship that is worthy of your time revolves around honesty. Not sharing Hepatitis C status will feel like a breach of trust and put a potentially healthy union in jeopardy. Your date/partner is likely to be disappointed that you didn’t say something earlier because it seems like you couldn’t trust them with personal information.
  • Even if safe sex practices are followed, keeping someone you are close to in the dark about your Hepatitis C can put them at risk. It is so easy to have a date over who wanders into your bathroom and takes the liberty of freshening up with your toothbrush, clipping an irritating hangnail with your nail clippers or shaving an embarrassing stray with your razor. The Hepatitis C virus can live in blood on all three of these ‘personal care items’ for up to two weeks.

Once you recognize the time is right to talk about this, it may be a difficult conversation to begin. Two ways to being this dialogue are:

  1. It seems like we’re getting along pretty well, so I need to speak with you about something. It’s a bigger deal for me than you, but I want to be up front with you.
  2. A few years ago, I found out I have Hepatitis C. It’s a liver disease. Have you heard of it?

Here are some additional pointers:

  • Bring up the topic before things get passionate – it will give your potential sexual partner a chance to process and understand you having Hepatitis C.
  • Make sure you relax during this discussion. The more afraid you are, the scarier you having this illness will come across.
  • Emphasize that it is spread by blood-to-blood contact, so casual contact carries no risk – and sex that doesn’t draw blood is extremely low risk. Using safe sex precautions virtually eliminates transmission risk.
  • Consider acquiring pamphlets explaining about how Hepatitis C infection occurs so that whoever is on the receiving end of this info has resources.
  • Explain that you are not to share personal care items – toothbrush, clippers, razor, etc. – because there can be a tiny bit of blood on them.

Because it opens up the possibility of rejection, revealing Hepatitis C is not typically on the agenda for a first or second date. However, this discussion should always precede sexual activity. In addition, sharing this personal bit of information helps lay the groundwork for honesty in any potentially lasting relationship.

References:

http://blog.hepcfund.org/dating-with-hepatitis-c/, Dating With Hepatitis C, Retrieved October 20, 2013, Greenview Foundation, 2013.

http://sexandhepc.com/dating.html, Got a match? Hepatitis C Dating Services, Retrieved October 20, 2013, Glenn Abel, 2013.

http://sexandhepc.com/talk.html, Kiss and Tell: Having the ‘Hepatitis C Conversation’, Retrieved October 20, 2013, Glenn Abel, 2013.

http://www.hepatitis.va.gov/patient/faqs/telling-others.asp, How Do I Tell Someone I Have Hepatitis C?, Retrieved October 20, 2013, US Department of Veteran Affairs, 2013.

http://www.hepatitis.va.gov/pdf/brochure-135.pdf, Telling People You Have Hepatitis C, Retrieved October 20, 2013, US Department of Veteran Affairs, 2013.

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  • Loulou

    Wow, just what I needed… I have often made the mistake of disclosing information too soon… “Hi, I’m a recovering alcoholic with Hep C. My husband died of a heroin overdose and I have been a widow for 10 years. How do you like me so far?” Yikes. I will learn a more gentle approach.

    • Mac Pappy

      Been there done that to many times. Telling to much upfront to soon sets up rejection every time. Not saying anything is unfair and sets up rejection as well. Timing of disclosure and ability to properly educate a potential partner is everything.
      Finding a suitable mate is difficult at best even when in perfect health. If I ever find myself truly looking again I think I will give a hep c dating sight a shot. The only problem with that is living in a small resort village will make any dating web sight a long distance dating scenario requiring travel and this almost never works out.
      Geese why is finding a soul mate so dam difficult?

      • Loulou

        It is hard because we make it hard. WHEN we find soul mates I think they’d do anything for us and we for them. It IS difficult but don’t you give up! Maybe your soul mate will be a travel agent and it will work out fine.

  • Noseknows

    I went through treatments and have been virus free since Sept. of 2012. I was diagnosed in 2000 just after mutually ending a relationship of 9 years. She was not infected. Well after trying both the tell right away and the tell later approach, which both ended in rejection, I just gave up. I absolutely understood and held no ill will towards either lady. I am 62 years old and still hesitant about trying to date. I really don’t mind because being alone and being lonely are two different things, and I’m not lonely. If the opportunity comes, I will ask a woman out, but it is still in the back of my mind. Good luck to all who are infected, both in your cure and relationships. It sure is not easy!

  • droitduseigneur

    I don’t advocate keeping it a secret but I “had” HCV (yay! no longer) for 35 years and I’d like to tell what happened (or didn’t happen). When I met my soulmate in 1989 I didn’t know I had HCV – didn’t find out until 2001 and of course I shared the info with him and he was immediately tested. Low and behold, during our many years of loving each other, he did not get HCV!

    But I hear you all about the difficulty of telling a new love interest about such things. When we met, I was scared to death to tell him I had herpes but I took a deep breath and he said it didn’t matter. (And he didn’t get herpes either!)

    Apologies to those who find this to be TMI.

    • jupiter rising

      I think its Great ! I’m happy to see someone who has had hep C this long. It gives me a lot good hope.

    • trotter

      I suggest you getting blood test to make sure u stay in remission. Hep C is in your blood. It comes back sometimes.

      • droitduseigneur

        Agreed. I follow up every 6 months with my specialist and they do a viral load. So far, so good!! Again, I was not nor would I ever advocate for keeping this a secret from a lover.

        • trotter

          Agreed. Forgot to tell you “congratulations” on remission. Doesn’t always work that way. Enjoy!

    • Tha Amish One

      This is extremely relevant to me. I went on a first date with a girl last night, and it went amazing and she told me she had Hep c. We finished the date (it went awesomely!) and so I needed to do my research. Thanks for sharing! I’m looking forward to good times with my new girl!

  • fmlihanson

    hepatitis cis the pitts. i have it, AND LET ME SAY i have had my last girlfriend break up with me over because of it. There is a confusion when it comes to hepatitis c. people like to think if u even have sex once, ull get it. i have never had a relationship last more than 3 months in my life. infact all but one were under 2 months. im orphan, and was raised in foster homes. at the age of 19, my life became absolutely unbearable and i began to use heroin. i never shared a needle or razor. but i know i got it from sharing a snorting utensil cuz ive feared this disease my whole life and thats the only explanation how i contracted it.

    Now after many years of dealing with depression, my life is worth it to me. theres no dating, theres no way to work, i get sick often. i have no health insurance. and just to think, i dont have a snowball’s chance in hell. i came alone in this world alone, and i guess ill soon be leaving it alone too… Here’s my words of wisdom to whom it concern, ive learned that it doesn’t matter what you look like, who u are, all that matters to most is money.

    • trotter

      You are not duty bound to tell anyone how you think you contracted the Hepatitis C. Anyone born between 1945 and 1965 needs to be tested because that in itself is a high risk, it’s not known why, but 3/4 of Hep C sufferers are baby boomers. If you’re in that group, no problem telling anyone that’s how u got it.
      Did you know clinical depression is a common side effect of Hepatitis C?
      And, you know down deep what matters or you wouldn’t keep dating, and you wouldn’t keep fighting this dirty, horrible disease.

      Sorry about your past, had to have been tough. Now, you own your life. As long as you’re alive, you have a purpose in life. Stop, be calm and listen to your inner voice that will tell you what you’re here for. It’s unique and only you can do it. I wish you well. It’s no fun, it’s not easy, but you can do it.

      • paul

        the reason 1945 to 1985 was so infectious is that HCV was in every nations blood supply. HCV is a thorn or a cruxifix, it is very important to not get isolated. If you are poor FMLI and cannot get free quality medical advice email me at [email protected] and we can give you free ongoing advice.
        Paul Chair Hepatitis Foundation UK

  • fmlihanson

    and keep it a secrect as long as you can, because noone wants ur disease or to know ur sick at all. PEOPLE DONT CARE

    • trotter

      It is frustrating sometimes when ignorant people treat us like we have cooties. But, if you can find them, there are good and caring people. Hope you do better soon.
      Also, did you know depression is a common condition for Hepatitis C patients? I’ve felt better after getting on an antidepressant. It helps u deal better.

      • susan

        Hi everyone. I just found out today that I tested positive for hepatitis c. I am also 14 weeks pregnant. I don’t know how to tell my fiancé. And I am very worried about my baby. How should I tell him?

        • trotter

          hi

  • N nnennoo

    My partner hid his diagnosis from me for 6 full months – actually he never told me, I found his medical report last month after becoming terribly suspicious that something was wrong, that I had been lied about something. Still don’t know what to think about it and whether I want to continue the relationship. And while I truly do understand the fear of losing someone you love once the truth is out, I simply cannot grasp the fact that he did not insist on using condoms, this is simply beyond me. I tested negative last week but it is too early to know for sure. I don’t know what I would have done had he told me the truth at
    the beginning of our relationship or after a month or two, or ever, but I think what he did decide was the worst option possible.

  • Rachael Swanker

    [email protected] he is from South Africa.