How To Deal with Hep C Stigma
Have you ever felt judged or stigmatized for having hepatitis C? Due to the myths and misconceptions surrounding hepatitis C, many people feel judged or mistreated because of their diagnosis. Especially when people assume that you contracted hepatitis C through drug use, it can be really difficult to cope.
To address these concerns, we asked our HepatitisC.net advocates, "What advice do you have for dealing with hep C stigma?". Check-out their responses, and comment below to share your own ideas!
"Don’t let others drag you down if they treat you differently or unkindly. I personally considered it their problem, not mine. I found many times people react unkindly to what they don’t understand. If the opportunity arose, I would educate others on the facts and myths of how hepatitis C is transmitted and how the virus works in the body. By educating others and encouraging them to get tested & get treatment, I found almost everyone was relieved to know more about hepatitis C and even asked questions."
"I think that finding others who have lived with hep C and/or got treatment might help to offset the stigma. Having both role models and support might be the best way to alleviate the stigma."
"In a person’s day-to-day life, how much stigma one faces is determined mostly by those around us, their impressions or beliefs about who has hep C, and their ability to understand or be compassionate, or simply how well informed they are. In my experience, the more people understand, the more ready they are to let go of the stereotypes and incorrect beliefs, judgements and myths."
"I use a bit of sassy, self-talk to deal with stigma. I just look at doctors, medical staff, and anyone else and smile. Inside, I'm thinking, "You don't know me. You have no idea how strong I am or what future dreams I have". Then I take a deep breath, exhale the painful emotions, and move on."
"Stigma, that is so scary for all of us. I have learned that for every person you met on the street, you will find that one person who also has hep C or knows someone who does. Once you encounter that bond, you will feel more apt to sharing your story and diagnosis with others. Awareness is key and if we act afraid of hep C, we give off that vibe to others. Stand proud and share all the information you can about this; You never know whose life you may impact by sharing about hep C."
"From the epic ballad Funkytown by Lipps Inc: "Talk about it, talk about it, talk about it." The biggest thing about stigma is lack of knowledge. Most people who harbor ill-will towards another person regarding HCV have inaccurate information. Talking about hep C helps eliminate those myths. Remind people of your humanity, talk about who you are, and find common ground. Because of the power of predjudice, people will have a hard time looking at you and not seeing hep C. Something to remember: Stigma isn't new, and nor are its answers. But when stigma is new to us, it feels threatening, regardless which side you're on."
Still have questions? Some people want to learn more about hep C, but also want to keep their diagnosis private. At HepatitisC.net, there are ways to get information and connect with others, without revealing your identity. Click here to learn more about how to talk about hep C anonymously.
Did you experience early symptoms or warning signs of hep C?