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Safety in Numbers

As I often do, I like to frame or title these pieces with a familiar phrase, idiom, or saying. And this is no exception. Again, it has different meanings and depends on what we are talking about – context.

A unified voice

If we look at this saying –safety in numbers– from the lens of community, it is, to me, about how we can do more with a unified voice than with a splintered or fractured one. Impossible as it seems sometimes, because of all the competing groups and agenda, there are, once again, more things we have in common than not. That is not to say we each don’t have a uniqueness or different story to tell: If you feel safe in your own experience with hep C, you are lucky, as I encounter many who do not feel secure about their situation. Stigma alone causes harm in a very real way, as we deal with comments, misunderstandings, and judgement. Once again, as we know, it’s not the only disease with baggage, but there is a special kind of stigma that accompanies hep C.

Have you found any secure places or people you can talk about living with hep C, or what we call “the journey”, which can begin long before diagnosis? I did and it continues to provide some level of safety, understanding, and compassion that exists nowhere else in my life.

Knowledge is power

Not everyone has been lucky enough to find the same degree of safety, I know. There are a myriad of reasons why. I am lucky to work with some well-informed and kind people, but if I didn’t, it would be a different story, I know. I hear the stories in my work and in the community, and hardly a day passes that I don’t hear something more disturbing than the last. Things are not explained well to patients far too often. People can walk away with fear and unnecessary anxiety because of an unwillingness to share, resulting in a lack of knowledge given to patients.

Safety may be a foreign word to some, but there are all kinds of ways that safety can be applied to our health. Security and confidence are all part of the same narrative as I see it. Cultural differences add another layer to the mix. I don’t simply mean a different spoken language, but without question, words can carry a lot of weight when speaking about safety and security, especially with someone who is newly diagnosed with something like hep C.

Good numbers and bad numbers

Numbers is another multi-meaning word. In hep C, like all else, the numbers are many. All the tests are essentially numbers, we are determined to have this number or that, good or bad. Ultimately, however, the numbers from tests cannot define us. A really good number I do like is the number of times I have found a safe haven in the community of people with lived experiences— you and me alike. Another very cool number is when it is nothing, as in undetectable, virus-cured. By no means is it the whole story, but wow, does it ever feel good when we hear that piece of news. Honestly, I relive my own experience every time I hear or read about someone sharing the same news and I hope you will too.

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.