Saturday 28 July marks World Hepatitis Day.
I was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 2010, when I was 24 years old. I cleared the virus in March 2017, when I was 31. The fear that my hepatitis C would develop, as well as the stigma associated with the virus, was a continual factor during the second half of my 20s. This World Hepatitis Day, I am celebrating 16 months of being hepatitis C free. I was cured because of medical advances and was not facing the same future when first diagnosed. I am now healthier than ever and feel like I have entered a new chapter in my life.
It is estimated that there are 214,000 people living with hepatitis C in the UK, with approximately half of these not diagnosed. The new, direct-acting antiviral treatments first became available in the UK to patients with fibrosis or cirrhosis (hardening and advanced liver damage) in 2015. For several years the treatments were rationed and only people with significant hepatitis C progression could access them. As my hepatitis C was diagnosed early on, my liver was very healthy. Finally, at the end of 2016, I was informed that I would be starting treatment.