When You Think You've Been Exposed to Hepatitis C: Is It Time to Get Tested?
Last updated: August 2020
Recently, a young man wrote into my foundation, asking how soon if could find out if he'd been exposed to or infected with hepatitis C. He seemed frantic in his verbiage and I wished I could reach out and give the poor guy a hug and say, “It will be ok!”.
It started at a party...
He went on to share he was with a group of friends at a beach party recently in Florida. The group of friends ranged from 18-27 years old. He shared that there was a large amount of alcohol there and everyone was having a grand time. He said that after several drinks, he began to feel not himself. He shared that he had been drunk before, but this time, he just could not control his ability to walk well and said the area around him began to float, as if he was on a cloud. He found a group of young ladies sitting on a beach couch and sat down. That was all he could remember. Waking up on a couch sometime the next early morning, just as the sun was getting up, he gathered his things and found the friends he came with and they went home.
Could he have been exposed to hep C?
It was about 3 days later he shared that a rumor started that several groups of people were experimenting with methamphetamine. He was startled to hear that he too was amongst the group that had been doing this. Apparently, the young ladies began using and as others became curious, they watched and eventually joined in under pressure. Later, someone came forward and stated they were infected with HIV and HCV (the hep C virus). As the news traveled, the so did the story of that night. Because this young man had no idea if true or not, he began researching hep C and then contacted me.
Getting tested and getting answers
I advised that the best thing he could do was get in touch with his medical doctor and explain the situation (or simply ask for a blood test to test for HIV and HCV). I explained that the detection time frame for a positive antibody test is about 4-10 weeks after exposure, but 97% of infected people will only show a positive antibody screening 6 months after exposure.
I know it is frightening and I got him in touch with our group here at HepatitisC.net and a couple support groups through my foundation. I did tell him it was good he reached out so quickly and that that this is the key when fighting hep C. I shared that he will be more prepared to deal with information once he knows for sure if he indeed has been infected. If he does go get tested now and it comes back with nothing, I encouraged him to go back in 6-8 months to be screened again, just to be certain.