January 5th, 2013
Finding out that you have hepatitis C can be a shock. You may experience a range of emotions, from disbelief to anger, sadness or fear.
While it might be tempting right now to pull away from friends and family, research has shown that the support of friends and family is vital when living with a medical condition. Don’t underestimate the value of simply having someone to talk to.
Beginning that first conversation about hepatitis C can be difficult though. You may be concerned about the reactions of friends and family and unsure of what to say.
Who to tell?
Remember that you’re not obliged to tell everyone about your illness.
There are, however, some people who should know:
- It is important to tell your healthcare providers, including doctor and dentist, about your diagnosis so they are better placed to help you.
- If you have private medical insurance, you may need to tell your insurer. Check your contract carefully.
- You do not need to tell your boss or work colleagues, although it may be appropriate to do so if the type of work you do puts others at risk of contact with your blood.
- While the chance of the virus being transmitted through sexual activity is slim, you should inform your partner. It’s always smart to practice safe sex, to protect both you and your partner.
How to tell them?
If you decide to share your diagnosis, choose the right time and place to begin the conversation. It’s always easier to discuss something important in a quiet and comfortable spot.
You may want to start with how you found out that you have hepatitis C, how you felt when you found out and how your doctor is managing your condition.
Your friends and family are sure to have their own worries about you having the condition and may be concerned about contracting it themselves. You might wish to talk to them about the risk factors and how the virus is transmitted.
Some other things that you might like to mention are:
- It is a manageable condition and it is possible to live well with hepatitis C
- It does not always cause symptoms so it is important to get checked out if you are at risk
- It is not spread through casual contact, like kissing, hugging or shaking hands
Remember, knowledge is power so it’s essential that both you and your loved ones have plenty of information. Check out our hepatitis C resources page to find out more.