for Veterans and the Public
Telling others and finding support
Finding support means finding people who are willing to help you through the emotional and physical issues you are going to face. If you let the right people in your life know that you have hepatitis C, they can:
- offer you support and understanding
- provide you with assistance, such as running errands, helping with child care, or going with you to doctor visits
- learn from you how hepatitis C is spread and work with you to prevent the virus from spreading
Deciding to tell others that you have hepatitis C is an important personal choice. If you decide to share your diagnosis, it is best to tell people you trust and people who are directly affected, including:
- past or present sex partner(s)
- past or present needle-sharing partners
- roommates or family members
- people whom you spend a lot of time with, such as good friends
Of course, you also should inform all of your health care providers, such as your doctors, nurses, and dentists.
What you should tell others
You may want to begin with when and how you found out that you have hepatitis C. You may want to give information on how the virus is spread and how the virus is not spread.
Explain that hepatitis C is spread through blood-to-blood contact. Tell them that hepatitis C is not spread through casual contact, such as hugging or shaking hands.
When you should tell others
Many people share their diagnosis as soon as they find out. Others wait for some time to adjust to the news and to learn more about hepatitis C.
You should share your diagnosis as soon as possible with people who may be directly affected by your diagnosis, such as sex partners and needle-sharing partners. It is important that they know so that they can decide whether to get tested. If you need help telling people that they may have been exposed to hepatitis C, most city or county health departments will tell them for you, without using your name. Ask your doctor about this service.
Before telling your partner that you have hepatitis C, take some time alone to think about how you want to bring up the subject.
- Decide when and where would be the best time and place to have a conversation. Choose a time when you expect that you will both be comfortable, rested, and as relaxed as possible.
- Think about how your partner may react to stressful situations. If there is a history of violence in your relationship, consider your safety first and plan the situation carefully.