For most people who live with haemophilia and were exposed to hepatitis C through their treatment products, before proper testing was introduced, the diagnosis experience was more than 30 years ago. If they were diagnosed as a child, it might have been their parents who received the test results and they might not have been certain whether they still had hepatitis C until they were older.
Suppose for a moment that you are one of thousands of people around the world each year who confront the possibility that they may have contracted the hepatitis C virus. You’re worried, perhaps confused, and have a million other things on your mind. Where do you start?
Aaron* was shocked when his hepatitis C rapid test came back positive. When he was approached by a nurse and peer worker at the Hutt Street Centre to get tested, he had been pretty sure his results would be ok.
If you’re homeless and have no symptoms, testing for hep C is probably low on the list of priorities. Aaron considered himself pretty clued in about blood-borne virus risk; he’d been injecting drugs for many years and was an expert in technique, always using clean equipment.
A hunt will soon be on to find 50,000 Australians with hepatitis C who are missing out on getting cured.
Finding 50,000 campaign will target geographically dispersed and socially diverse people who so far, have not been reached by the “business-as-usual” national hepatitis C response.
Despite having been one of the countries leading in the global campaign to eliminate viral hepatitis, Australia may now not meet its 2022 national hepatitis C treatment target or the 2030 global target.
Hepatitis C was one of the unintended consequences of haemophilia treatment before blood products could be tested for the virus. Since the introduction of new highly effective drugs for hepatitis C in 2016, most people with haemophilia in Australia have been cured of the infection.
Gavin Finkelstein is the president of Haemophilia Foundation Australia. He has lived with haemophilia for his whole life, and with hepatitis C since childhood. For World Hepatitis Day, Gavin was kind enough to tell us his story of living both conditions and how he was cured of hepatitis C.