(ed: due to some misspent earlier years exploring/bathing in the world of narcotics – i picked up hepatitis as a lasting reminder/hangover…(the hepatitis that is passed on from sharing syringes/blood-to-blood…no dangers to/for passers by.)
and i became aware of this fact shortly after kicking addictions to heroin..and assorted sundries..
so i did some research/went and talked to the people at the hepatitis clinic at auckland hospital..
and my takeaways from all that were that alcohol is really bad for you – so i have not used alcohol since..
and that one should be in general kind to ones’ liver if infected with hep c….
and it was clear to me that meat/dairy make the liver work really hard..
i was already vegetarian..and went vegan..so i felt i had that covered…
so as far as the hepatitis c clinic was concerned i was an ideal blank slate – no complicating factors like alcohol consumption to muddy any test results..and a vegan diet to boot..
so over the ensuing years i would get contacted by them – offering their latest option..chance to be a guinea pig in some way..
i had to resist such alluring invite-conditions as ‘we will need to do do a biopsy – we will just take a little piece of your liver’ ..
whereupon i would engage reverse and back quickly out of the room – saying ‘thanks but no thanks’..
i was also offered a treatment that had hideous side-effects…i went and spoke with people who were doing/had done it…and i read the list of side-effects..
and as i felt i was managing it ok with no alcohol/vegan diet – i again said ‘no thanks..i will wait ’till something better comes along’…knowing that it would..as an effective/minimal side-effects cure for hep c would garner billions for the inventor..
and sure enough..one day i got a call..offering me a treatment that was getting 90%+ cure-rate..and with no side-effects..
so i put on my roller-skates – and i was there..’yes please – i’ll have some of that’..
and what i was fortunate enough to be given – was the earliest versions of what is now being offered to those infected..
and it worked – my hep c was cured – minimal side-effects…(bless them..!..)
which brings me to the point of this piece – which is to urge people who may have only shot up drugs once or twice – to get tested..
‘cos as it turns out i was deluding myself as far as thinking i was managing it well….and the cure brought this home to me with a bump..
it was like having two large weights – one on each shoulder – removed…
the difference was from nite into day…
what had been an almost constant tiredness was gone…
my energy levels shot back up..
so please – if you exposed yrslf at any time to that possibility of getting hep c. – please get tested..
‘cos a cure is to hand..
and it will give you a new life..that much i can promise you..
and from me – a very special thank you to all those good people who work at that auckland hepatitis c clinic ..
in what is rewarding work for all..
they cure people – it doesn’t get much higher than that..
From February the Hepatitis C drug Maviret will be funded by Pharmac which will help thousands of New Zealanders with genotype three of the virus but it’s taken years of hard work from advocates to make it possible.
They say more needs to be done to reach their goal of making New Zealand Hepatitis C free by 2025.
Currently just two drugs are funded – Viekira Pak for those with genotype one and Harvoni for end stage liver disease involving all genotype, but an estimated 24,000 others have been without funded treatment.
Hep C Action Aotearoa’s Hazel Heal was first diagnosed with the virus in 1992.
‘By 2015 when I was just about to sit my first year law exams – my time had run out – I had cirrhosis and I was on the edge of needing a liver transplant – so I couldn’t wait for treatment.
‘It was then I learnt the medication existed but it would have cost me $268,000 US to buy the treatment I needed’ Ms Heal said.
Looking at potentially selling her house to pay for medical attention – she decided to look for alternatives and found the generic version of the medication she needed.
‘Identical medication came in the mail – it cost me about $3000 and I took that for 24 weeks and was cured and my liver has made a full recovery’ she said.
She got the medication after contacting Australia-based doctor James Freeman – who has since spoken to other New Zealanders in a similar position with genotype-three hepatitis C.