Time is on Our Side: Is Hepatitis C Dangerous?
Last updated: July 2023
"Time is on our side": One version of an old saying that can apply to hep C, but not always. Not so many years ago, it was not uncommon for people to be told something along those lines when they were diagnosed with hep C. They were told that by their doctors, and in the hep C community, I was still hearing much the same as recently as just a few years ago. There was, in the past, that dealing with hep C for most people is not an urgent need.
Why waiting to test and treat hep C is dangerous
The fact is that the message being true for some makes it potentially dangerous for others. It caused a segment of people who had been tested and were confirmed to have chronic hep C to put off treatment, and although some came forward with the advent of better treatment options, some were lost to care. This is still an issue with people; many who are young, who are diagnosed, and perhaps only with an antibody test and no test to determine if they do in fact have chronic hep C. There may be no follow up, related to their access to the care they need to address hep C, or any other health issue.
We cannot predict liver damage with hep C
Time is not necessarily on our side with hep C. Some well-meaning people and care providers will provide conflicting or wrong information. This is not true in every case, and we know how important our healthcare providers are to us all. There has always been gaps in knowledge, and who can know everything about every disease and condition.
There is absolutely no way that nobody can accurately predict the trajectory/progression of disease caused by hepatitis C. There are some things we do know with greater certainty, but how quickly a person develops fibrosis or whether we will suffer with extrahepatic manifestations is unpredictable. There are some comorbid (other) conditions, which can exacerbate or accelerate damage or level of illness over time, but how much time?
How to protect yourself
There are some things we can do to slow progression of disease. Firstly, it was alcohol use and how it might affect my own liver health, even though I was not drinking it every day, I did use occasionally. I stopped because it made sense, and as it goes, I never took it up again since. Some medications impact our liver badly and having other liver inflaming disease like hep A and B, which you should be vaccinated for. Diet matters too, and fortunately, many are making more effort to eat healthy, and another thing that helps us all is activity. You don’t have to do a big thing like run a marathon, unless that is your desire, but even walking every day will help.
There are many more things we can do, and many of you already know them I am sure. The message is that putting off your treatment because you believe you won’t be affected badly by hep C is not a good strategy. It can cause worsening physical and emotional health, poor quality of life, and in too many people: life ending disease.