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Disclosing Your Status – Hep

a diagnosis of hepatitis c implies more than living with a virus; it also includes decisions about who to tell, when to tell, and what to tell others. disclosure involves complex moral and legal issues. there are certain circumstances in which you must disclose. For example, if you know you have hepatitis C and want life or long-term disability insurance, you must tell the truth when asked about your status. if you don’t disclose to a sexual partner and you pass hcv on to them, then you may be responsible for it. People have been sued and criminally prosecuted for not disclosing their serological status. these cases can set a precedent for hcv. Although the decision to disclose himself is largely a personal choice, there are moral concerns around this, especially if he has been in a relationship with someone, potentially exposed to their blood, and did not disclose his HCV status. . Additionally, disclosure involves a certain amount of risk. if he tells someone that he has hepatitis c, he may encounter ignorance, fear, discrimination or harsh judgment. Hepatitis C carries a stigma, in part because the disease is associated with injection drug use, but also because the virus can be transmitted to others. If he decides to disclose his hepatitis C status, here are some suggestions to help him through the process:

  • Know the risks of disclosure. people may be upset by this news. you may face discrimination. relationships can change or end. your loved ones may worry about you. on the other hand, people can be supportive and offer help. Hepatitis C is so common that you may find that the person you are disclosing to knows of other people living with it.
  • before you tell others, make sure you know how hepatitis c is spread. people may want to know if they are at risk of getting the virus from you. Hepatitis C can be transmitted when blood from an uninfected person comes into contact with HCV-positive blood. Hepatitis C is most often transmitted through sharing injection drugs and their equipment, but there are other modes of transmission. sexual transmission of hepatitis c is low risk, especially in heterosexual relationships. Hepatitis C is not spread by kissing, hugging, sharing food, or drinking from the same glass.
  • Be prepared to answer questions. they may ask how you got hepatitis c. if you don’t feel comfortable disclosing how you got it, then don’t. it is enough to say that you are not sure; few people are 100 percent sure.
  • share information. arm yourself with knowledge from websites, literature, or other resources to help answer more questions the person you’re disclosing to may have.
  • ask them to keep the information confidential. however, if you tell one person, be prepared for others to know. some people are not very good at keeping secrets.
  • After disclosing your hepatitis c status, don’t expect your family and friends to digest all this news instantly. Give them time to react and respond. everyone does this at their own pace. If this process is prolonged or negatively affects your relationship, you may want to speak with a counselor, member of the clergy, or other trusted advisor. Specific Disclosure CircumstancesInternet Disclosure The Internet is especially risky because the Internet is forever. If privacy is important to you, please do not post information about yourself in internet chat rooms and social media. If you want to join a web-based group and still maintain a certain amount of anonymity, use an alias, although even this can be traced back to you. If you don’t want others to know your status, don’t share anything online about having hepatitis c. health care settings your health care provider cannot disclose your hcv status without your prior consent. The information in your medical record is protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Your information may be shared with your insurance company if they pay for your care. Because health care professionals take precautions when handling blood and other bodily fluids, they are not at risk of contracting HCV from you. sexual partners Although the risk of transmitting HCV sexually is low, it can happen. the risk is higher in men who have sex with men (msm) and in seropositive people. the risk is almost non-existent in long-term monogamous heterosexual relationships. However, regardless of the level of risk, there are issues related to disclosing your hepatitis C status to people you are having sex with or expect to have sex with in the future. To figure this out, you might want to ask yourself, “How would I feel if someone I had sex with didn’t tell me they had Hepatitis C?” most of us would want to know before the first sexual encounter. It makes sense to get to know someone better before telling them they have HCV. When the relationship seems to be going in a sexual or serious direction, it’s probably time to talk about your status. Unfortunately, when conflict arises in a relationship, an angry or hurt partner may go public with any information you’ve said in confidence. While there isn’t much you can do about it, there are some precautions you can take early in your relationship. First, have a clear conscience from the start by practicing safer sex. Second, never put your HCV status in writing. Do not reveal your HCV status in a dating service questionnaire or in emails to prospective dates. telling children sometimes it may seem necessary to tell a child that they have hepatitis c. for example, your condition may be serious and you want the children you live with to know why. what to tell them depends largely on their age and your assessment of their ability to handle this information. children can sense when something is wrong, and acknowledgment gives them the space to ask questions. try to find something really reassuring to say to them. be brief but truthful. ask them if they have any questions. tell them they don’t need to worry about their health. Even if you don’t disclose your HCV status, tell the children who live with you how to stay safe. make sure they know never to use your toothbrush, razor, or cuticle nipper. tell them not to share anyone’s personal items.

    last revised: March 4, 2019

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