Living with hepatitis C 

Below are answers to some questions about living with hepatitis C, including questions about diet, the workplace, travelling and having a baby.

Could anything I do make hepatitis C worse?

Drinking alcohol can increase the damage to your liver. If you have hepatitis C, you should try to cut out alcohol or limit your intake. If you need advice about this, ask your doctor or contact an alcohol self-help organisation.

Read some tips for cutting down your alcohol consumption and find out where to get alcohol support.

If you're concerned that you're addicted to alcohol and are unable to stop drinking, contact your GP. Treatments are available to help you quit.

Read more about treating alcohol misuse.

Is there anything else I can do to help myself?

As well as cutting out alcohol, it can help to:

This is because being overweight, smoking and having more than one type of hepatitis can increase the chances of your liver being damaged if you have hepatitis C.

Do I need a special diet?

You won't usually need to change to a special diet if you have hepatitis C, but you will need to make sure you have a generally healthy, balanced diet.

Your diet should include plenty of fruit and vegetables, starchy foods, fibre and protein. Cut down on fatty, fried and processed food. Read more about what a balanced diet means.

If your liver is badly damaged, however, your doctor may suggest limiting your intake of salt and protein to avoid putting too much strain on your liver. A hospital dietitian can advise you on what you can and cannot eat.

How can I avoid spreading the infection to others?

You can reduce the risk of passing hepatitis C on to other people by:

  • keeping personal items, such as toothbrushes or razors, for your own use
  • cleaning and covering any cuts or grazes with a waterproof dressing
  • cleaning any blood from surfaces with household bleach
  • not sharing needles or syringes with others
  • not donating blood 

The risk of spreading hepatitis C through sex is low. However, the risk is increased if there is blood present, such as menstrual blood or during anal sex.

Condoms aren't usually necessary for long-term heterosexual couples, but it's a good idea to use them when having anal sex or sex with a new partner.

Do I have to tell my boss?

You don't have to tell your boss that you have hepatitis C, unless you're a healthcare worker.

However, if hepatitis C is affecting your performance at work and your employer knows about your condition, they may be obliged to make allowances for you, such as giving you leave of absence for going to the clinic. You may also be entitled to statutory sick pay to cover doctor appointments or time off work.

Therefore, you may want to consider telling your boss about your condition.

Can I travel abroad?

You can travel abroad if you have hepatitis C, but you should speak to your doctor in advance.

You may need to have vaccinations and special arrangements may need to be made to ensure you're able to transport and store your hepatitis C medication safely.

It might also be a good idea to take any documentation, such as details of blood tests or medical records, in case you need medical treatment abroad.

Read more about travel vaccinations and accessing healthcare abroad.

Can I have a baby if my partner or I have hepatitis C?

You can have a baby if you or your partner has hepatitis C, but there's a small risk (around 1 in 20) of hepatitis C passing from mother to baby.

There's also a small risk of the infection spreading to the unaffected partner when having unprotected sex, but this is very unlikely to happen.

Speak to your doctor for advice if you're planning to have a baby and you or your partner has hepatitis C.

Page last reviewed: 10/07/2015

Next review due: 10/07/2017