Healing Hepatitis C
“How did I get it?”
“What about my family and friends?”
“Is there a treatment?”
“Am I going to die?”
These are just a few of the many good questions we hear all the time: one of us as a patient and the other as a doctor, both of us hepatitis C educators and advocates. Even though over 4 million persons in the U.S. and nearly 200 million people worldwide are affected by hepatitis C, it is still hard to get straightforward answers. We hope to change that here.
Our own paths first converged through our common interests in hepatitis C activism and the conviction that strong advocacy leads to good health policy. We both serve in leadership positions in the California Hepatitis Alliance (CalHEP), a statewide organization that seeks to improve California’s legislative approach to the viral hepatitis epidemic, and we continue to meet with our Governor and other policymakers on an ongoing basis to educate them about this condition and to inform sound public health policies in our state.
Despite our vastly different backgrounds, we came to recognize that our personal journeys in hepatitis C had significant parallels. Neither of us set out to be an expert on hepatitis C or to advocate for awareness and treatment: hepatitis C had been an imposed struggle rather than a visionary process. For both of us, our initial ignorance and frustration was ultimately supplanted by growth, hope and success. And to be honest, we had both been well-served by our tendencies toward hardheadedness.
This is a different kind of hepatitis C book. It takes the form of a conversation between us, as we speak and respond to each other about our shared experiences, struggles, and successes with hepatitis C. But although we speak to each other, we are really speaking to you. You will come to learn about hepatitis C much as we did: in a gradual way, from trial and effort, from ourselves as well as the other patients whose struggles are recounted here.
Having hepatitis C can be a transformative, ‘forty days and forty nights’ kind of experience. It is tough. But in these personal stories of confronting stigma and misinformation, fears and frustrations, you will find a sourcebook for medical and treatment information: what hepatitis C is and what it does, what to expect during treatment, how to communicate with your physician, ways to find the support you need, and how to advocate for yourself, your friends, and loved ones. But most of all, we hope to walk you through the process of facing the diagnosis and treatment head-on, to show you that it is possible to get through this hepatitis C thing—and to be cured—without surrendering your life to it.