Alicia’s Story: My Hepatitis Journey

The cruel fact that Hep C has been stigmatized, previously relegated to the shadows, and in general health forums ignored… has been a disservice to me in my life and any others just like me or you who are/were Hep C positive and never knew.
For years I had symptoms that doctors blamed on other things, and I, not knowing anything about Hep C at all, like most people-believed them. And for that I suffered.
For years I was always exhausted. When I worked, when I rested, when I went to sleep, when I woke up.
And I was anxious, extreme bouts of anxiety that came and went. Ongoing UTls every 4-6 months, and rounds of antibiotics. The last few years before my diagnosis, I had stomach problems with most things I ate, a slightly enlarged kidney, a tiny amount of fluid around my heart, and a higher than normal white blood cell count. Which was indicative of my body fighting an infection. All told to me but never explored.
I went repeatedly to multiple doctors saying I thought something was wrong with me and was patted on my head and told I had anxiety, panic disorder, agoraphobia, and mental health issues.
Finally in desperation I asked to be tested for STIs. That is how I found out I had Hepatitis C. The way was told was traumatizing. He was old and rude with a scowl. “The good news is you don’t have AlDS, the bad news is you are Hep C positive. What street drugs have you done?” He refused to believe I had never used someone’s needle for a street drug and kept insisting I had to have. I left there with a pamphlet he handed me knowing nothing more and feeling ashamed, as his receptionist stared at me with a look of pity and disgust on her face. I thought I was probably dying.
I actually feel embarrassment when I say it was traced back to a blood transfusion in the mid-1980’s because, though I want baby boomers to understand there was a time when blood transfusions contained Hepatitis and medical sterilization of instruments for surgery and such was not careful, I also know in my heart that it does not matter how a person got this chronic deadly disease and victim blaming/shaming is wrong, unhelpful, and indeed very hurtful.

Finding Help4HepBC was crucial for me. I was taught about Hepatitis truthfully (not google search BS) and was reassured I could do something about it, and was not judged there. I was directed to where found immediate care and approved for Epclusa, and Hepatitis C medication I took once a day for 12 weeks. I had few side effects, some headaches and itchiness was all. I am now Hepatitis C free, I could say cured, but will always test positive for hep C antibodies, as anyone who has had Hep C will.

It has taken a year and a half to feel lots of energy again, for my tummy troubles to go away, my eyelashes to grow back long and thicker, and my hair to grow shiny. This summer mosquitoes feasted on me. I was extremely lucky to have had little liver damage.

A test can save your life. Anyone can have Hepatitis; anyone can take medication and be healed. So just go get the test.

Thank you so much for letting me share my story with you.

Resources that may help:
If your story has similarities to Alicia’s, or you want to learn more, these links may help:

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