Expertise and HCV

I have always been a little uncomfortable with the term “expert” but do understand that it describes a person having expertise in a given subject or field. The reason I am writing this is because I have been flattered with being called an expert in HCV. I receive all sorts of invitations to conferences and symposiums that are chock filled with “experts”.

I do not think of myself in these terms at all, and I suspect this is why I am so reluctant. I am not a scientist or physician and there are lots of people who know wayyyyy more than I do about hepatitis c. This is not because I am being super shy or making any claim about others who should or should not call themselves experts. Many people are called experts in HCV, and quite reasonably. I simply share in my experiences in my work and life lived with HCV. Some reading required as well.

Sure I have learned some things along the way, and a lot from experts in the field, but the most important things I have learned come from people like you, people in the HCV community. You will have noticed if you have read any of my other pieces that I speak a lot about community. The reason is because you are the people I rely on for gaining better understanding of how it impacts people’s lives. I am speaking to the impact on you, to be precise.

Some people want to learn a lot about things, and it is not uncommon for people to become interested in learning about an illness that affects them or someone close to them. This is entirely understandable to me, and I did the same when I was diagnosed with hep C. Dr. Google is much better now than when I was first diagnosed, and wow what a difference it is now on the internet as far as reliable information. There are now many great sources for good information about HCV, like here for one, if I can be so bold as tooting our horn a little ☺

Does learning about your illness necessarily make you an expert?

Perhaps it can, and if you can say all the acronyms and there are so many, you can talk about hepatitis c with the best of them. There are always new ones and it appears to me that there will be no end to terms about HCV like SVR, PWID, CHC, HCC, and so on.

Medicine is no longer solely the domain of scientists and physicians, and this is an improvement in my opinion. Being empowered with good understanding about something as important as your health or that of someone you care about is key to improved quality of life.

Expert or not, novice or whatever term you choose or identify with, it is worthwhile to spend some time in educating yourself about the basics at least. If you are keen to learn more, go for it!
In my experience the people who have the best outcomes in their illness are the ones who educate themselves and advocate for their care and treatment. Being an expert is not the critical part, but along the way you may well become one, or others will think of you in those terms and that is just fine.

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