How Did You Contract It?
“How did you contract it?”: Answering the most-asked question of those diagnosed with hep C.
The uncomfortable question
This has got to be the most uncomfortable question anyone fighting hepatitis C is faced with. I know that 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, I still get this feeling, even though I have been very public about having the disease. Several documentaries, news features, magazine articles, and I still get that nervous feeling.
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, and highly stigmatized too. That part I really get upset about. I know that many other health issues also have high negative stigma tied to them, but with our now ~98% cure rates, I would have hoped that stigma would started to relax more and more.
How this disease affects everyday people
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’ faced with 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 woman who is a mother, a wife, a friend, and a daughter could be fighting this horrible disease. I wanted them to see that it is not a three-headed monster drooling from the sides of its 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 how a person who is fighting addiction feels with the stigma of that. However, I do know that 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 doesn’t matter how I contracted it versus someone fighting addiction- it does not matter. After the point of contraction, the battle is the same.
What I am saying here is… I wish people would not put judgment on this disease. We all need to come together to bond and lift one another up and help get cured. 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~”
Editor’s Note: Are you afraid to talk about your hepatitis C? 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.