Having hepatitis C 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 going to school or work, spending time with family, and getting back out on the social scene.
Meeting people can be hard enough as it as. 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.
An Overview of Hepatitis C
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 its effects become more severe. Most people with the infection won’t know they have it until the symptoms of liver damage begin 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 inflicts on your body,
HCV is a blood-borne illness. That means you can become infected with the virus if you come into contact with blood that’s infected. This contact often occurs by sharing contaminated needles or other equipment used to inject drugs. Hepatitis C isn’t considered to be a sexually transmitted disease, but it’s passed through sexual contact on rare occasions.
For the majority of people with hepatitis C, the infection will be long-term and chronic. In other words, you’ll likely deal with the infection and the resulting damage for the rest of your life. HCV can ultimately cause severe health issues, including liver cirrhosis and death.
Dating When Diagnosed
How do you tell your partner you’ve been diagnosed with hepatitis C?
Honesty is always the best policy. A diagnosis can be challenging to learn. Sharing it with another person can be stressful for some people. If the two of you can handle this together, though, it’ll be better for you both in the long run.
If you feel more comfortable having a medical professional with you to help inform your partner, make an appointment with your doctor. Ask your partner to attend the appointment. Be as vague or as specific about the nature of the appointment as you need to have your partner 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 tests is entirely up to your partner, but it’s highly recommended. Unless the two of you use or have used needles or other instruments for drug use, the likelihood that you’ve shared blood is low. Still, if your partner is infected, catching it now will be beneficial. Early treatment is one of the best ways to slow and possibly prevent complications from HCV.
Dating During Treatment
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, and be honest with partner about your energy levels and why they may fluctuate.
Also, as the infection progresses, the damage to your liver may begin causing serious complications. These, too, can impact your quality of life. That’s why 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 you have it?
That’s entirely up to you and the pace of your relationship. For most 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. Infecting another person with HCV through unprotected sex is rare, but it can happen. Using a condom or another barrier method will greatly decrease your risk of spreading the virus. Ultimately, it’s important that you are honest. Again, the risk of spreading the infection through sex is low, but it’s not zero.
Dating a Person with Hepatitis C
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 disease to spread, especially injecting drugs. Sexual contact can also spread HCV, but the risk is low. Certain sexual behaviors, including engaging in rough sex, having multiple partners, and having a sexually transmitted disease, increase your risk for also contracting HCV. Additionally, sharing personal items, such as a toothbrush or razor, can spread the infection. That’s because these utensils may come into contact with infected blood. However, this is less common.
What are the risks of dating a person with hepatitis C?
The primary risk is that you could become infected with HCV, too. Living in the same house with a person puts you at risk but only if you come into contact with their blood. The virus is not spread by:
- sharing food utensils
- holding hands
You can be infected through sexual contact, but the risk is low. Being informed so that you can take proper precautions greatly reduces your risk of also becoming infected. 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 don’t engage 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, but you also risk infecting them and having the infection spread to other people. The risk of transferring the infection is so low that you could have a relationship without ever telling your partner and your partner could never know. However, you’ll probably find 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 help prevent the chance of infection.