Five years ago: freaked out about hepatitis C

With World Hepatitis Day coming next month, I’ve been looking back to where the world was five years ago when I was diagnosed, when the world of hep C treatment had just begun to change. I didn’t come fast enough for me, a least I thought so five years ago today. My biggest memory of the time was that I was freaked out. I was freaked out because

  • I had learned I had contracted hepatitis C.
  • I didn’t know how I had contracted it.
  • The only approved treatment was interferon, a debilitating drug with no promise of a cure.
  • I was waiting for an appointment with a gastroenterologist. It was more than two months off. I had been put on the cancellation list but my chances of an earlier appointment seemed slight.
  • I was yet to learn the extent of my liver damage.

Millions of people were just as freaked out as me, with many of the same reasons.

With World Hepatitis Day coming next month, the freak-out level over hepatitis C has lowered somewhat for most newly diagnosed people. That’s thanks to the widespread use of drugs that cure almost all instances of the disease. The drugs have significantly decreased the instance of chronic hep C infections.

On World Hepatitis Day 2018 the World Health Organization had estimated 71 million cases of chronic hepatitis C worldwide. That’s less than half of the WHO’s estimate for the year I was diagnosed.

The world has come a long way in hepatitis C treatment. Announcements on a further dip in infections are expected next month. Stay tuned and stay vigilant. There’s still a lot more to be done to eradicate this horrendous disease from the earth.

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