Telling Others About Your Hepatitis C Diagnosis: Things to Consider
Sharing your medical information is a very personal decision. There are many things to think about when you’re trying to decide what, and if, you will tell others about your hepatitis C diagnosis.
Telling someone about your hep C diagnosis can be beneficial
Are you needing support from friends or family? Are you looking for information or first-hand experiences from others living with hepatitis C?
Exploring your reason for sharing your health story may better help you narrow down who you want to share with, how much you want to share, and what you hope to get from sharing. You may come across some people who judge you for having hepatitis C.
In contrast, you will also be able to meet others who are ready to share their story and hear yours.
Is there risk of infecting someone else?
Hepatitis C is spread through blood-to-blood contact. That means, there’s likely little risk to most people in your life who rarely come into contact with your blood.
For close loved ones, the risk may be higher if you share personal items (like razors), medical equipment (glucometers), or if they’re your sexual partner.1,2
However, there are ways to lower your loved ones’ risk without sharing details about your medical health. If there is a chance they’ve already been exposed to your blood over the year so sharing your diagnosis can help them get tested and treated for hepatitis C if needed.
Do you have a legal responsibility to tell others?
Depending on where you live, you may be required by law to tell a sexual partner if you have certain health conditions, like STDs (which includes hepatitis C).3
That means if you have new sexual partners, using protection during sex and discussing your diagnosis may help keep them healthy, and you, legally protected. If you’re in doubt about whether you need to share your diagnosis, talk with your medical team.4
Be honest on forms that ask about your health history. Depending on the state you reside in, you might not be allowed to donate blood if you’ve had hepatitis C, even if you’ve been cured. Talk to your local blood donation center for more information.
However, you may be able to donate organs if you were to die. Being honest on any of these types of forms can help protect others’ health.
For more on blood and organ donation with hepatitis C, check out this article.
Sharing your diagnosis and your treatment plan
In my experience as a nurse, it’s pretty common for people to have a lot of different doctors for different things. This usually means a lot of treatment plans, including medications.
It’s hard to keep everyone on your team on the same page. Sometimes sharing your hepatitis C diagnosis can help remind your doctors to keep your liver health in mind when prescribing medications.
You can also talk with your pharmacist about your diagnosis and any medications or supplements you take. In my experience, pharmacists are a great resource for the risks and benefits of your medications and supplements.
In short, except for a few cases, it’s your decision to share your hepatitis C diagnosis. There are many things to consider if you decide to share with who and how much.
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