Boynton Beach, Florida
Diagnosed With Hep C in 2002
I was diagnosed with hepatitis C around 2002, a result of two blood transfusions in 1985 during a difficult childbirth. After the initial shock of the diagnosis wore off, I thought, Oh, great, now I am really doomed to stay single. The problem with dating and hep C is that people are ignorant about the disease—uneducated and uninformed.
I already considered myself relationship challenged before my hep C diagnosis, when I started online dating in 1998. Now I realized I needed to consider the virus when meeting new people, and I was concerned that others would be turned off or frightened that they might catch the disease themselves.
I decided to take an honest, open approach. In my particular situation, I would tell the person how I believe I contracted the disease and then elaborate on how it is a blood-borne disease. I would also suggest that they search for information online for their own reassurance, pointing them in the direction of the Mayo Clinic. If the disease was contracted through intravenous drug use, that’s another conversation for another day. However, many people have tattoos nowadays, and getting tattoos in the ’60s through the ’80s was a risk factor for people contracting hepatitis C.
I would recommend waiting until meeting in person before divulging this information. If you are meeting with someone you have been communicating with online, I usually suggest what I refer to as a drive-by: a quick 20- to 30-minute drink or cup of coffee first to see if there is any chemistry. If there isn’t, then clearly there is no reason to share this information with another. However, if there are any sparks between you, you can make the decision either to disclose then or in a follow-up phone call.
To divulge this information in the follow-up phone call to the drive-by is perfectly acceptable in my opinion. There is no need to add the extra stress of having to divulge this information to someone you are meeting for the first time. If you meet someone and you feel there is mutual chemistry however, I would suggest sharing this information before making plans to meet with them again. This way they have time to digest and do their own research if they wish.
Alternatively, you can choose to wait until you meet again face-to-face, but I would not let it go beyond that. I would explain in the phone call that this is something that has not affected my previous relationships and that it doesn’t define me or my lifestyle (although this can vary depending on what stage of hepatitis C you are in) but that if we were to pursue a relationship this is something they should know about me.
Hepatitis C is not considered a sexually transmitted disease, and the CDC [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] does not suggest nor feel the need that couples in monogamous relationships wear condoms to prevent hep C transmission. But people fear what they do not know, so always try to be as honest and open as possible.
I went through treatment with Harvoni, and I am now cured. I have early cirrhosis, but at least my liver disease will not progress as fast as it would have if I had not been cured.
Because so many of us are now cured, membership in our hep C dating website has been decreasing. However, there are still new members who are newly diagnosed or who are not able to get treatment for whatever reason. It’s important that we take care of our health so we can all live the most fulfilling lives possible.
Robin DeLuca is the author of The Original Cyber-Dating Guru’s Guide to Online Dating, which is available as an eBook at 12StepMatch.com, LoveInRecovery.com and SoberGayDating.com as well as at Amazon.com for Kindle readers. Robin manages the hepatitis C dating website hepc-match.com.