World Hepatitis Day (WHD) takes places every year on 28 July and brings the world together under a single theme to raise awareness of the global burden of viral hepatitis and to influence real change. One of just four disease-specific global awareness days officially endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO), WHD unites patient organisations, governments, medical professionals, civil society, industry and the general public to boost the global profile of viral hepatitis. – Worldhepatitisday.org
To help raise awareness and support this year’s theme of Eliminating Hepatitis, we wanted to share one person’s experience of living with hepatitis C. Here is Mark’s story, that he shared with us in the hopes it will help educate others about the importance of testing early and often:
Mark (names have been changed to respect privacy) first tested positive for Hep C in 2009, as part of a routine testing at a methadone clinic. Anxious about the diagnosis, he was able to find support within his community of friends, living a similar lifestyle. This gave him answers to questions he had when he needed them, and also provided him with a community of peers where he was not judged.
Before being able to start treatment, Mark was incarcerated for a period of time. Upon release, he voluntarily tested for hepatitis C. On two different occasions the results were negative, which was great news him! He felt he had beat the disease. Mark was told he was one of the few who could clear the virus on their own without treatment.
In 2016, Mark was tested again at a local clinic and the results came back positive again, with the added diagnosis of “progressive cirrhosis of the liver”. The news was devastating. “It was like a kick in the butt,” he says.
It would appear that the 2 “clean” tests may have been false negative results. The reasons for these kind of test results are explain well here .
He went through a series of tests to determine the best treatment option. He found his doctor “was pretty great at explaining all of the details”, which helped to ease his anxiety. The internet was also a great source of information; “everything was dead on with what I was feeling.”
Today, with the help of his support network and his medical team, Mark is preparing to start treatment in the very near future.
When asked what the community can do to better support someone living with Hep C, Mark says we need “more avenues for testing and treatment.” He hopes that if people, both public and medical professionals, could be more informed, there would be more regular testing and people would get the help they need sooner. Early detection is important to protect your health in the long term, and to avoid spreading the disease to others.