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HIV Still Takes Precedence Over Hepatitis C An Opinion, A Complaint

It’s about time. At Johns Hopkins University Medical Center, the first HIV-HIV liver and kidney transplants have been performed. We should all rejoice. Contrarily, once again, the dangers of hepatitis C infection are disregarded. Although they are there, in the news, these dangers remain in shadow. The two recipients of these organs had lived with HIV twenty-five and thirty-five years. Their lives were not in danger from HIV. Both infections were well-managed. Otherwise, the patients wouldn’t have met criteria for transplant. In the case of the recipient of the liver, organ failure was caused by hepatitis C. It made the news, but without comment. In fact, hepatitis C is far deadlier than HIV. Of course, there is no cure for HIV, and folks with the disease still suffer from its many secondary conditions. Sad news: a million people will succumb to the virus every year. Hep C will claim more than 10,000 lives, and this is with a cure on the scene – a cure for which accessibility is the issue. Of the three million infected with HCV, most are unaware of their infections. There is an upside to this number: people can live a long time before hepatitis C shows its face. However, we’re now in the midst of an epidemic of new infections. Make that co-infections. I get it. In the early days of the AIDS epidemic, people were dying. They were fortunate to have people who loved them, to advocate for them. For some reason, living with people with hepatitis C can be irritating. Annoying. It’s no mystery that patients turn to online sources for support.

When Bill Clinton first took the stage in New Hampshire, to campaign for Hillary, the first issue he mentioned was the heroin epidemic. The next thing he mentioned: HIV. He did not acknowledge the ensuing plague of hepatitis C. Sheesh. When we can’t get even the Democrats to mention us publicly, who can we get? I know I’m complaining. I complain a lot, maybe. Maybe not. The way I see it, there is a lot to complain about. For example, I wrote an article praising Gilead Sciences and their Patient Assistance Program. Then, I heard a report that they had become reluctant to offer discounts. I wrote a few articles about that too, and yes, I was complaining. But here’s the thing – I want all of you to get your meds. I hope some of you can treat early, so you can forget about hep and get on with your lives. Some of you are doing that and I wish you the best.

Now, I have been cured. The liver transplant made me eligible for medication. The insurance company didn’t want to lose the liver they’d just paid for. So, now that I’m cured, why do I stick around? Why don’t I forget I was ever infected with hepatitis C? Go and live my life without worrying about HCV. I’ll tell you why. My opinion – people with hep C are some of the coolest, most enjoyable, interesting, excellent people it has been my pleasure to know. Some I know in person. Some, strictly internet. Hep C does something to people. It tests them. Challenges them. Changes them. Sometimes, it tries to kill them, but it also spurs them on to become warriors. Especially in the days of interferon, a time when ordinary people became heroes, dealing with horrible side effects and mortality. Although those days are gone, and many are cured now, some, like me, have stayed active in the community. It’s easy to advocate for folks I care about. Here at Health Union, Kristine and company are providing a great environment for advocacy. Our greatest asset, each other.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.