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Telling others you have hepatitis C isn't only for their benefit. You need the support of family and possibly some close friends to help you better cope with your illness.
"Some of the biggest problems people have with treatment stem from not being supported at home," says Franciscus.
Fortunately, the risks of catching the virus through sex are low.
Of course, if you have multiple sexual partners, you should still use a condom.
And public perceptions of people with hepatitis C may be more sympathetic than you think.
The American Gastrointestinal Association conducted a survey of public understanding of hepatitis C, questioning about 500 people with the disease and about 1,230 people without it.
You should tell your family, your spouse, your sexual partners, and anyone else who might have caught the disease from you.
The chances are small that any of these people have hepatitis C, but it's important that they know so that they can be tested and treated if necessary.
However, screening rates remain low for this birth cohort, despite guidelines from the CDC and the US Preventive Services Task Force that recommend testing for all individuals in this age group. To address this problem, a quality improvement program was implemented in a Durham, North Carolina-based internal medicine/pediatrics practice.
Some couples are comfortable with the small risk and don't feel like they need to use condoms.
Others are more nervous and want to use protection. The key is this: You and your partner must talk about it openly and come to a decision together.
Condoms protect them from hepatitis C and protect you from dangerous sexually transmitted diseases.
But if you're in a long-term monogamous relationship, the CDC considers the risk of sexual transmission of hepatitis C so low that it doesn't even recommend using protection.