The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is an infection that affects a person’s liver. People can transmit HCV through direct blood-to-blood contact. A person dating someone with HCV may need to take certain precautions to prevent contracting the virus.

Hepatitis C is an inflammation of the liver that happens after infection with HCV. A person who has HCV may not know they have it, as it can cause mild symptoms or none at all. Liver damage from HCV may be the first indication that a person has it.

If a person is dating someone who has HCV, they may need to take precautions to ensure they do not contract it. Additionally, HCV can cause a person to experience health issues or certain stigmas. A person may need to provide support for their partner during these times.

Read on to learn more about dating someone with HCV, possible precautions to take, and how to tell your partner you have HCV.

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While waiting to get tested for HCV or awaiting results, a person may be stressed, anxious, or worried. A person dating someone awaiting HCV results may be able to help them by:

  • providing reassurance
  • listening to their concerns
  • offering support
  • going through calming techniques with them, such as mindfulness or meditation

Diagnosis

Before testing for HCV, a person may have to wait for their body to produce antibodies to the infection. Doctors use these antibodies to detect HCV in a person’s blood.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) note that it can take 8⁠–11 weeks on average for a person to produce a positive test for HCV. Some may take longer, but the majority of people who have HCV will have detectable antibody levels after 6 months. There is also a test available that can detect HCV 1⁠–2 weeks after exposure.

The time it takes a person to get their HCV test results can depend on the type of test. The CDC states that HCV tests can take a few days or a few weeks to arrive. Certain rapid HCV tests only take around 20⁠–30 minutes to come through.

Learn more about HCV screening here.

A person who has recently received a diagnosis of HCV may feel:

A person dating someone with a new HCV diagnosis should try and be sensitive to their feelings. It is important that both people in the relationship are honest with each other about what this diagnosis means to them.

Learn about mental health resources that could help here.

Transmission

When dating someone with HCV, a person should remember that people can transmit it via blood-to-blood contact. A person cannot contract HCV via:

  • kissing
  • hugging
  • holding hands
  • sneezing
  • coughing
  • sharing food or drink
  • sharing eating utensils

HCV is absolutely curable. A person may receive medications to treat their HCV, or it can go away over time without treatment. However, the CDC notes that less than half of cases of HVC go away on their own. Once a person has received a diagnosis of HCV, they should speak with a doctor about treatment options.

HCV treatment can take around 3 months and cures over 90% of people in this time. Doctors can test for a sustained virologic response (SVR) to confirm treatment has been effective. If a person has SVR, doctors consider them to be virus-free indefinitely.

Once a person has SVR, they can no longer transmit HCV. However, a person may require follow-up tests 6–12 months after their treatment ends. This is to ensure they do not experience a rare relapse.

After a person has finished HCV treatment and doctors have declared them cured, their partner may not have to take the same precautions as before. However, a person may want to wait until their partner’s cured status is confirmed before removing any precautions.

Certain risks come with dating a person who has HCV. However, if a person follows precautions, they should not have to feel concerned about contracting HCV from their partner.

According to the CDC, a person is unlikely to contract HCV from sexual contact, although it is possible. They go on to say that the risk of contracting HCV is higher for:

Research from 2016 discovered that a small amount of HCV is detectable in the sperm of someone with the virus. Researchers determined that the amount of HCV in sperm has the potential to pass on the virus in people who engage in anal sex.

There is currently no clear answer surrounding the risk of HCV transmission via sperm. However, doctors strongly recommend that people engaging in anal sex always wear condoms.

Learn more about the sexual transmission of HCV here.

There are several ways a person can reduce their chances of contracting HCV from their partner, including:

  • always using condoms during sex
  • never sharing needles
  • never sharing toothbrushes, razors, or nail clippers
  • wearing gloves when helping partner to dress a wound or clean up blood
  • avoiding sexual contact if either partner has any cuts or sores on their mouth or genitals

Learn more about the transmission of HCV here.

Sharing a person’s HCV status can be stressful and scary. A person may want to be upfront about their condition when they begin dating. Others may feel more comfortable building trust in their relationship before talking about their HCV.

A person may feel more comfortable telling their partner in the presence of a healthcare professional. Speaking with a healthcare professional may help put a person’s partner at ease if they have any questions or concerns.

Having information from reliable sources at hand can help a person quickly answer any questions their partner may have.

Being honest about an HCV diagnosis allows a person’s partner to take precautions to avoid contracting it.

Learn about how HCV can affect the body here.

A person who is dating someone with HCV may need to take certain precautions.

If a person and their partner decide they want to have children, they can speak with a doctor about the possible risks of their baby contracting HCV. Having HCV does not mean a person cannot have children.

If a person develops complications due to their HCV, they may require support and assistance from their partner. A person should be honest about whether they are able to take on the role of caregiver or not.

Learn more about the possible complications of HCV here.

Doctors treat HCV using antiviral medications. A person who has acute HCV may not need to take any medications. A doctor may instead recommend the following for acute HCV infections:

  • bed rest
  • drinking plenty of fluids
  • eating a healthy diet
  • avoiding alcohol

A person with acute HCV may need regular blood tests to ensure they are clear of the virus.

If a person has chronic HCV, they may also need treatment for complications of the virus. Chronic HCV can cause a person to develop:

A person dating someone who has HCV may need to take certain precautions to avoid contracting the condition.

It is unlikely for a person to contract HCV via sexual contact. However, people with HCV should always use condoms during sex to prevent transmission.

Although sharing a diagnosis of HCV can be difficult, a person should let their partner know if possible. Talking with a healthcare professional may help a person understand their partner’s HCV diagnosis better.

HCV is highly treatable. If a person thinks they may have HCV, they should speak with a doctor as soon as possible.