If you have hepatitis C, it can affect your life in a number of ways. After you’ve come to terms with your diagnosis and started treatment, you may begin settling into your new routine. This includes getting back on the social scene.

Meeting new people can be tough. You may feel like it’ll be even more difficult if you have the hepatitis C virus (HCV). It doesn’t have to be, though. Keep reading to learn more about how to navigate the dating scene when you have HCV.

HCV causes an infection in your liver. This infection leads to inflammation in the early phases and ultimately to liver damage. Many people with HCV will go undiagnosed for years or even decades. That’s because HCV causes few to no symptoms until liver damage begins and medical testing reveals the damage. To confirm a diagnosis, your doctor will order a blood test.

HCV is one of several hepatitis viruses. It’s considered the most serious form of hepatitis because of the amount of damage it can cause.

HCV is a bloodborne illness. That means you can contract the virus if you come into contact with the blood of someone who has HCV. This often occurs by sharing contaminated needles or other equipment but can also arise from contaminated blood transfusions. Hepatitis C isn’t considered to be a sexually transmitted disease but it can be passed through sexual contact on rare occasions.

For the majority of people with the condition, hepatitis C is curable. In other words, you’ll likely be able to avoid severe damage if you undergo treatment. When untreated, HCV can ultimately cause severe health issues, including cirrhosis and death.

How do you tell your partner about your hepatitis C diagnosis?

Honesty is always the best policy. A diagnosis can be challenging to learn. Sharing it with another person can be stressful. If the two of you can handle this together, though, it’ll be better for you both in the long run.

You may feel more comfortable having a medical professional with you to help inform your partner. Make an appointment with your healthcare provider and ask your partner to attend.

Once the diagnosis is clear, the two of you can go over what it means for you, for your partner, and for the future.

Should your partner be tested?

Being tested is entirely up to your partner, but it’s highly recommended. Unless you’ve shared needles or other instruments, the likelihood that you’ve shared blood is low. Still, if your partner has HCV, catching it early will be beneficial. Early treatment is one of the best ways to slow and possibly prevent complications from HCV.

Is it possible to maintain a relationship during your hepatitis C treatment?

Yes, you can maintain a relationship during your HCV treatment. It’s important to remember that treatments come with side effects. These side effects may leave you exhausted or sick. Date as you feel up to it. Be honest with your partner about your energy levels and why they may fluctuate.

Also, as the infection progresses, the damage to your liver may cause serious complications. These, too, can impact your quality of life. It’s important to pace yourself and try not to exert all your energy at once. You may end up feeling worse and have a difficult time rebounding.

If you have hepatitis C, when should you tell the person you’re dating?

That’s entirely up to you and the pace of your relationship. For some people, dating will come before sex. However, if you find yourself ready to have sex with a new person, you should be open and honest about your diagnosis.

Transmitting HCV through unprotected sex is rare but it can happen. Using a condom or other form of protection will greatly decrease your risk of spreading the virus. Ultimately, it’s important to be honest.

Can I prevent a hepatitis C infection?

There’s no vaccine for HCV. The best way to prevent HCV is to avoid behaviors that can cause the virus to spread, especially sharing needles.

Sexual contact can transmit HCV but the risk is low. Engaging in rough sex and having a sexually transmitted disease can both increase your risk of contracting HCV.

Less commonly, sharing personal items such as a toothbrush or razor can spread the infection since these utensils may come into contact with infected blood.

What should I know if I’m dating someone with hepatitis C?

The primary concern is contracting HCV. Living with a person puts you at risk but only if you come into contact with their blood. The virus is not spread by:

  • hugging
  • kissing
  • sharing food utensils
  • holding hands
  • coughing
  • sneezing

You can contract HCV through sexual contact but the risk is low. Stay informed so you can take proper precautions. This will greatly reduce your risk of contracting HCV.

The more comfortable you feel with the diagnosis and what needs to be done to reduce the possible spread of the virus, the better you will feel when caring for your partner and building a relationship together.

How do you limit or eliminate the risk of HCV transmission?

If your partner has a cut or wound, wear gloves to help them, and clean up any spilled blood with bleach and water. Use protection during sex and avoid engaging in rough sex. If you have a cut or sore in your mouth, wait until it heals.

Supporting your partner through a hepatitis C diagnosis and treatment can help the two of you handle the unknowns and worries that accompany this new chapter. Being informed about how the disease is and isn’t transmitted can help the two of you live a healthy, happy life together.

What happens if you don’t tell your partner you have hepatitis C?

Your partner may respond with a range of emotions if you don’t tell them and they find out. You also risk transmitting HCV and having the infection spread to other people.

Since the immediate risk of transmitting HCV is low, you could have a relationship without your partner knowing about your condition. However, it’s always better to be honest than to hide something that could seriously damage your relationship in the future.

Ultimately, whether you date and what you tell your potential partner is up to you. You may not be comfortable discussing your diagnosis early on in a relationship, but open communication is key. Sharing this information can help your partner provide support for you and prevent infection.