Talking to Loved Ones About Hepatitis C

People with Hepatitis C are often concerned about how others will view them.   You may find yourself avoiding friends and family because you’re worried about how they’ll react to your diagnosis.  But having the support of people close to us is important for everyone, particularly when going through a tough time.  Living with a chronic disease can be difficult, and keeping open relationships with your family and friends is important to your well-being.

It helps to come armed with facts when telling people about your diagnosis.  Some people may react harshly simply due to their lack of knowledge and/or misconceptions about the disease.  If you start the conversation with the following facts, it can help put people at ease.  Explain that Hepatitis C:

  • Progresses slowly and often doesn’t cause symptoms for decades
  • Is a manageable disease and that there are treatments available
  • Is difficult to pass on to other people and the risk of transmission within a family is low

Ultimately, who you decide to tell about your Hepatitis C is up to you.  However, there are some people that really should be informed – your family, spouse, sexual partners – or anyone else who could have possibly gotten the virus from you.  Even though the chances are small that they have the disease, it’s a good idea for them to get tested. Remember, Hepatitis C is transmitted through exposure to contaminated blood, and avoid exposing others to any open wounds, or to hygiene products such as toothbrushes.

Seeking either professional or peer support when disclosing your diagnosis can be helpful.  If you were recently diagnosed, you may not be able to provide the emotional and informational support that your loved ones need.  Telling loved ones can be an upsetting experience for everyone.  Planning the disclosure – when, where and how to disclose – can make the experience better for all involved.