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A couple having coffee together at a table, the man speaking to the other person, gesturing at this shirt which shows the shape of a liver on it.

Dating with Hep C, Part 1: Pick Up Lines

I am 29 years old, and have had hepatitis C (HCV) all of my life. That can make dating a little tricky. But not that tricky, as it hasn’t stopped me from having half a dozen serious relationships, and let’s just say a few dates.

Dealing with misconceptions

It’s a common misconception that HCV is an STD, which can make dating even more challenging. It’s actually a blood borne pathogen, meaning it can only be spread through blood-to-blood contact.

An STD means that it spreads generally via sexual intercourse.

While hepatitis C rarely spreads via sexual contact, it’s not an STD.

Because it is a blood borne pathogen, it does share most of the same risk factors, just not the same likelihoods. It’s a little confusing at first.

Relationships hurdles

The misconception is part of the hurdle of the explanation. When it comes to HCV, it’s far easier starting a relationship when there isn’t the hurdle of the explanation. I’ve run into both scenarios they know of my HCV prior to dating, or they find out as we start dating.

It’s important to avoid lying to dodge the topic, there’s no reason to be dishonest about who you are or what’s going on. I casually work in the fact that I have advanced liver disease.

Typically topics like bars, diet, or exercise are easy to use to approach the fact that I have nebulous liver complications.

I do this to ease a person into the conversation, it can be jarring without a proper understanding of what goes on first.

Open communication

I talk about my limitations, how the disease affects me, and what I’m doing about it. By talking about the symptoms first we frame the disease is a more human light. One of the biggest social problems of an STD or perceived STD is its ability to “other” people. (I don’t mean to say that this is exclusive to STDs, most contagious or perceived contagious diseases face similar a challenge.) I explain that I can’t run long distances because my legs cramp up easily, I have trouble with lots of stairs because I can’t breathe as efficiently, I balance my electrolytes daily to ensure my legs (and now arms too) don’t spasm or swell. It means that I monitor my diet in a way that apps on my phone just aren’t equipped to handle. It means I’m tired more often than not, and I easily forget things.

Sharing hep C facts

When we’ve known each other a week or so, I explain that I have HCV. I talk about how it’s transferred blood to blood, how it affects my liver, and we go into the risks of exposure.

Read part 2 of Rick’s Dating with hep C series.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Corinne Miga moderator
    4 years ago

    Hi Alan,

    Welcome to Thank you for sharing and your response; it’s not always easy to be so open. Unfortunately stigma exists around Hepatitis C and many other illnesses. Stigma most certainly does not make dating easy; by sharing your story and proceeding with honesty about how Hep C affects you, others may try to understand what you are experiencing. Although we each have our own experiences, millions of Americans are living with Hepatitis C, please know that you are not alone. Have you considered Hepatitis C treatment? With newer, safe and effective treatment regimens they offer a cure from Hep C which ultimately makes the virus undetectable and non-transmittable.

    I wanted to clarify that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Hepatitis C is not considered an STD. The risk of transmission from sexual contact is believed to be low. The risk increases for those who have multiple sex partners, have a sexually transmitted disease, engage in rough sex, or are infected with HIV. Individuals need to protect themselves; condoms would help prevent against the spread of HCV or STDS.

    I apologize if I have misunderstood any of your comments. I encourage you to talk with your doctor and attempt HCV treatment.You may benefit from a support group to share stories and receive support from others who are living with HCV. If you need additional support please check out:Help4Hep, it’s a national call-line that is available to provide support (1-877-435-7443). Wishing you the best!!

    Corinne, Community Moderator

  • Alan
    4 years ago

    Unfortunately, it IS STD, depend of vaious things,I have big problem about that,that I am in high risk of STD to another person.

    I was infected on a same way.

    Those things are 100 percent invidiual related.

    It is never same risk to anyone.Also depend of partner immune system,

    If she ( I ma a male and) and write this comment from non-homosexual s point of view , have no such knnowledge or experience ) have some other health problems , even dont know about them, consider that partner is in full health , but imune sistem is not functioning in full, risk is higher then is presented in worldwide statistic.

    That makes me a problem and also psichological barrier to even go to date with someone.
    am not alone and world is full of stigma,

    I am not a doctor , I am just one of us, living with hep-c for almost twenty years surrounded by solitary.

    Every time when I think about some lets say action or arrange some kind of date, all around me show som sign that they will stop me and also barrier from my side troughout the years make me live alone in unnatural private life.

    So , Once again, i dont want to give wrong opinion.,, we all deserve normal life in all aspect but our partners must be completely healthy in every way to avoid hepatitis STD because of weakening immune system from any other reason.

    Stigma is different story.

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