How Do We Tell Others We Have Hep C?
Just like most of you reading this, I faced the question about how and when was I going to tell my family, and whether I should tell friends or work colleagues.
A tough topic to tackle
This is not an easy subject and oh how I know it. I have spoken about it in earlier pieces I have written, but I was urged to speak about it as the main subject, so here we are.
Years ago there was a letter-writer unknown; that we could give to those near us to explain our predicament. It was no work of great literature but did hit on some of the key points that were common to most of us diagnosed with hep c. I may still have a copy somewhere but with new treatments much of it would be considered ancient history to some who never knew the old therapy.
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Telling the important people in your life
Well, I am sure of one thing now; it depends on you and your personal relationship with these people in your life because as I say over and over, we are all different.
For me it took no time at all to tell my wife, but it took longer to tell others, and it was months later in general.
Stigma? Yes it was-self stigmatization at play with me. Was I ashamed? No. Was I alone in this feeling? No way, as I learned in time.
How you tell others may be easy or hard depending on how well informed you are, and how comfortable you are in knowing you have hep c. I have no way to predict how others respond to this news; it just is not that predictable.
An opportunity for education
There is much more information now available which can help educate people about all of the risks of transmission and all the rest, so if you think your people will respond to being informed it may be the best route for you, but remember that not all people will be as open to learning as we would hope. Some will make snap judgements based mostly on myths and just not knowing anything real or true.
I think that those closest to us generally respond well, and if not right away but soon after the shock, will be more concerned for you than anything negative. You are the best judge of who and when you will disclose/tell others.
A personal decision
Remember that it is your decision to make and despite my own views on who I have told-anyone who will listen- I believe we should be responsible about issues like our transmission with those around us. This means being informed and taking a responsible approach to harm reduction, whatever it looks like. Something as simple as blood spills and risks, sharing razors, personal hygiene tools, syringes and needles, etc.
One thing remains a reality even after all these years; hepatitis c carries a stigma. It is apparent in abundance, even now with all we know about the damage caused by discrimination, it still lives on. Consider carefully whom you tell and how you tell them because it can cause you problems with some people. I say hold your head high regardless of what others think, you have nothing to be ashamed of no matter how you were exposed to hepatitis c.
What best describes you?