How Did You Contract It?

How Did You Contract It?

Answering the most asked question given to those diagnosed with hep C: “How did you contract it?”

The uncomfortable qustion

This has got to be the most uncomfortable question anyone fighting hepatitis C is faced with. I know even for myself I get all nervous and that clammy-hand feeling. It is because at that moment whatever comes out of our mouth will be subject to criticism, rejection, and judgment. We all fear not being accepted by our peers, family, and friends. I will admit, even I still get this feeling AND I have been very public about having the disease.  Several documentaries, news features, magazine articles and yet I still get that nervous feeling if I get asked by someone.

The stigma attached to hep C is still a factor. Although it has gotten a little better over the past 5 years, it remains to be a negative diagnosis. That part I really get upset about. I know many other health issues also have high negative stigma tied to them as well. But with our now 98% cure rates, I would have hoped that stigma started to relax more and more.

It is difficult to put your life out in public. Facing all sorts of backlash, shame or whatever. It is not easy.  When I chose to go public, I wanted to be that ‘everyday American woman’ face to a disease that no one would have expected ME to have. I wanted people to see me and say “oh man, if she has it, could I?”  I wanted to show that a normal everyday person CAN have this. A woman with a career, a mother, a wife, a friend, a daughter could be fighting a horrible disease with high stigma. That it is not a three-headed monster drooling from the sides of her mouth. I was just an everyday working woman with a family.

It shouldn’t matter how people contracted hep C

It has always been my thought about hep C, that yes, there are ways other than blood transfusions to contract the disease and much more difficult lifestyles than what I experienced. I am not here to pretend to understand and know how another who is fighting addiction feels with the stigma of that. But I do know we share the same stigma of hep C. It doesn’t matter how one contracts this disease, we are bonded by the same dragon we are fighting (a term used in the hep C communities to describe and call hep C) It also should not be looked down on as to how I contracted it versus someone fighting addiction because that does not matter. The battle from contraction is the same after that point.

What I am saying here is…I wish people would not put a judgment to this disease. We all need to come together to bond and lift one another up and help get cured. And if once cured, if an addiction brings you back to subjecting yourself to being re-infected, then we need to address the addiction as a separate disease. We need to help those fighting that battle. They are someone’s daughter/son, mother/father, wife/husband and most of all friend. We all matter in this world equally. We all deserve a cure and a happy healthy life. If you are fighting addiction, please read this and know you are stronger than what is tying you to a drug. You can BEAT that as well.  Stand up and FIGHT!  If you can beat hep C, you can beat this as well. You MATTER ~ “Not without a FIGHT! ~HCV~”

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