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5 Things You Should Never Say to Someone with Hepatitis C

Medically reviewed by Mark LaFlamme on February 16, 2016Written by Mary Baucom on February 16, 2016
Hep-c things to avoid

Your family and friends mean well, but what they say about your hepatitis C isn’t always right—or helpful!

We asked people who are living with hepatitis C to share the most bothersome things people they know have said about the virus. Here’s a sampling of what they said… and what they could have said.

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Like other health conditions, hepatitis C can have few (if any) noticeable effects. In most cases, people with hepatitis C are symptom-free for a long time. But even if your friend looks fine, it’s always a good idea to check up on them and ask how they’re doing.

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How someone became infected with the hepatitis C virus is a personal matter. The virus is spread mainly through blood transmission. Sharing drug needles or other drug materials is the most common way to get infected. About 50 to 90 percent of people with HIV who also use injection drugs are infected with hepatitis C.

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It’s a misconception that people with hepatitis C can’t be in a normal, healthy relationship. The virus is rarely transmitted sexually. This means that a person with hepatitis C can continue to engage in sexual activities, as long as they’re in a monogamous relationship.

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Hepatitis C is a bloodborne virus that can’t be contracted or transmitted through casual contact. The virus cannot be spread through coughing, sneezing, or sharing eating utensils. Making an effort to learn more about hepatitis C will show your friend that you care.

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Like hepatitis A or B, which are also viruses, there are no antibiotics for hepatitis C. It’s a virus, not a bacterial infection. That doesn’t mean hepatitis C isn’t treatable and can’t be cured. It just means that treatment can be more difficult. Treatment often begins with a medicine combination, and can last anywhere from 24 to 48 weeks or more.

About 75 to 85 percent of people who become infected with hepatitis C will develop chronic infection. If left untreated, chronic hepatitis C can lead to liver damage and liver cancer.

That doesn’t mean you or your friend should give up hope. A new class of drugs, called antivirals, targets the virus and has made treatment easier, faster, and more effective.

Looking for more hepatitis C support? Join Healthline’s Living with Hepatitis C Facebook Community.

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