Often my blog posts are triggered by emails and other conversations I have with people who have Hepatitis C or who have had Hepatitis C. Recently I have had a lot of talks about Hepatitis C transmission; how do you catch Hep C how is Hep C transmitted?
These conversations frequently trigger memories of my own experiences through the process of learning I had Hep C to the final relief of being Hep C free.
In the last few days I have had four different conversations with people about the terrible fear a person with Hepatitis C can carry of accidentally infecting a friend or loved one, or even total stranger, with Hep C virus.
I remember when I was told that I had Hep C and I was overwhelmed by this terrible feeling that my blood was poisonous; that any person coming in contact with my blood via any means might catch the disease.
Whilst the reality is that it is very, very difficult to transmit Hepatitis C to another person, that fact does not prevent the anxiety and concern that one might accidently somehow infect a loved one.
At that time when I learned I was infected with Hep C I had a young grandson who I loved to play with. I loved to play but always in the back of my mind was the fear that somehow he would come into contact with my blood and catch Hep C from me.
Even though I knew it was almost impossible for me to transmit the HCV to anyone this knowledge did not remove the persistent anxiety in the back of my mind.
Last weekend I had a conversation with a young man from Sweden, named Thomas, who discovered he had Hep C in 2002. This Swedish Hep C patient has been waiting since 2002 to get treatment through the Swedish health system. (The Swedish Health system triages access to treatment for Swedes with Hepatitis C. Like all other national services even the wealthy Swedish government cannot afford to offer all Swedes infected with Hepatitis C) Over those years of waiting Thomas has married and now has a three-year-old daughter. He was telling me how he lives with the terrible, and constant, fear of somehow accidently infecting his daughter or his wife. He expressed how that fear of infecting someone else is always at the back of this mind, pushing down on him emotionally and mentally.
I understood that feeling well.
Then today I received an email from a guy in Malaysia who is starting treatment for his Hep C this week; he expressed that same burden of fear of infecting another person with Hepatitis C.
I can’t wait to get rid of the unwelcome tenant. The feeling of something is living inside me & I’m always very afraid that l might infect someone else ( like a zombie), this feeling is overwhelming.
Last 3 weeks has been tough & the disease completely changed my perspective of life. ( positive)
But my journey is not over yet.
I will need your help for advice as l go through self medication.
This fear, this burden in the background, is a subject that does not get talked about much so I thought today I should write about it. Then even as I started writing this piece I received another email from the USA.
Thanks for helping us with information about our treatment options. My husband is literally scared to death when our 6 year old falls off her bike, or whatever, that he might have a cut or something on his hand and could give her Hep C. We both feel that the price of the generic treatment is certainly worth him not needing to feel that fear.
We will be in contact later in the week when we have sorted out the money side of things
So whilst this anxiety issue is not talked about much my feeling is that most people with Hepatitis C suffer from “Hepatitis C transmission anxiety”. If my experience is common to most people I would suggest that this anxiety is responsible for the issue of depression, which is generally noted as one of the symptoms of Hepatitis C.
And of course this anxiety is not isolated to the Hep C patient, it is also there for the close family members of a person with Hepatitis C.
No matter how loving, supportive, caring and accepting the partner of a person with Hep C is there can be no denying that in the background of their mind there is that fear of catching Hep C.
For example in my case my wife and I had been married for 35 years before I learned I had Hep C. I had been unknowingly carrying the Hepatitis C virus for that entire time and in that 35 years I had not infected my wife or my three sons. But once we learned I had Hep C my wife (naturally) started to worry about catching it. So, she put a big mark on her tooth brush, separated our razors and hair brushes. We started using condoms during sex.
Now given that I had had Hep C for nearly 40 years, and all of the time my wife and I had been together, there was no logic at all in doing these things. But fear is not logical and I totally agreed with taking these measures because the fear was also mine, combined with no small degree of guilt.
So why am I writing this?
I am writing because this is one of the issues of Hepatitis C transmission is not much discussed but a subject that certainly inflicts major emotional and mental problems on people with Hep C and their immediate family.
Whilst the reality is that it is very, very difficult to infect another person with Hepatitis C, because it requires blood to blood contact, this knowledge does not help much with these feelings of anxiety.
So what is the solution to this “Hepatitis C transmission anxiety”?
There is only one solution, get rid of the Hepatitis C. Cure yourself, start treatment.
Do not wait to see if you will get approval from your health insurance or your government health provider. Do not delay starting treatment for 3 month or 6 months. Get rid of the Hep C now. There are so many reasons why you should do this. For your physical health, for your mental health, for your relationships. There are so many reasons.
I am here to help people with this. Getting a 12 week treatment for Hepatitis C can cost as little as US$700 with cure rates of over 95%. If money is a problem then talk to me about it and I will assist in any way that I can. The main thing is to get rid of the virus.
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