May is Hepatitis C Awareness Month

  • May. 1, 2006 1:00 p.m.

Submitted by Wendy Mackay-The month of May is dedicated to raising global awareness of Hepatitis C by people active in educating the public. about the issues surrounding this liver disease and towards improving the lives of those infected.
British Columbia has over one-third of the total number of individuals living with this virus across Canada.
The BC Centre for Disease Control estimates 65,000 British Columbians live with this disease with 1500 -2400 new infections occurring annually.
Close to 60 percent of cases in BC are among those aged 40-59.These would normally be peak earning and family raising years but for many they are years of increasing fatigue, pain and disability as the liver is unable to regenerate fast enough to keep up with the virus and the body’s immune response.
It can take decades for symptoms to escalate to the point of impacting one’s daily quality of life and become a potential life threatening situation. The majority of people will die with this virus not from it.
However between 20 and 30 percent of chronic infections progress to cirrhosis, liver failure or liver cancer.
The more we know about this disease the better chance we have of preventing new infections and slowing the progression of liver damage with available medical treatments and maintaining a liver friendly lifestyle.
Education is the best protection against becoming infected. Early detection can save lives. Get tested!
What is the first thought that pops into most people’s mind when someone tells you they have hepatitis C? If it is “Oh they must have got it from IV drug use”, then that person needs an attitude adjustment because that thought is counter productive to supporting those dealing with the HepC virus and empowers the disease not the person. If it is “How can I be supportive?”, you have already helped improve the chances of that individual living a longer, happier life.
Please help eliminate fear and stigma by focusing on how to best deal with this disease. Forty percent of people infected acquired this virus by means other than drug use. If it was acquired via drug use then please support that person in ways that assist them to improve lifestyle and health.
There is no guaranteed cure for HepC. Treatments are available that have a varying degree of success depending on many factors. This is a complex virus that knows how to mutate to avoid elimination. Nor will there be enough new livers out there for the increasing numbers of people needing one to sustain life, because presently not enough people are organ donors.
The Hepatitis C Council of British Columbia website has a series of informative documents on Hepatitis C. For information about HepC and the HepC movement in B.C. go to www.bchepcouncil.ca/ and click on the key documents tab.
You can also check out my website at www.wendyswellness.ca

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