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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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