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Manuela’s – hep B story

Confusion and discouragement. Misunderstanding. Why me? And how did it happen?

It was 16 years ago.

When I heard that I was infected with the hepatitis B virus. It followed all sorts of questions about how I could have got the virus, knowing there was no case of hepatitis in my family. I started doing research to see how I could have come in contact with the virus, blood transfusions-no, sexual contact – I was too young, drugs, no.

It then dawned on me unsterilized medical equipment was the most likely scenario of how I contracted hepatitis B as a child when I had dental surgery and injectable treatment for the relief of an allergic situation.

Still in the 80s, disposable syringes didn’t exist; metals ones were used and then sterilised by medical personnel.

From the very beginning I informed my family about my situation, which motivated them to get tested and get vaccinated where necessary. My partner and my current husband was tested, he was not afraid, he informed himself and had been vaccinated; he was and has been a real support during this adventure; because from the moment you find out you're infected it is like a "contract" you sign with the doctor.

It requires constant testing, evaluation, and anxiety if somehow the medical situation is stable or gets worse. It is not easy, but you can live with hepatitis.

It followed a period of monitoring my health condition, my medical tests were in a constant flax, transaminases were normal, and I had low levels of viremia but high relative fibrosis and biopsy 2nd to 3rd.

According with the medical legislation in the country where I was living at that time I wasn’t eligible for treatment. During the same period I expressed my desire to start a family; so after discussions with my liver specialist it was the right time; because after having kids I was supposed to think about starting treatment to improve my liver’s condition.

I lived a healthy and quiet lifestyle.

I have two wonderful children, a healthy 8 year old boy and a 5 year old girl, thanks to a hepatitis B immunoglobulin vaccine for new born babies and now I know my children are fully protected.

After the birth of my second child I resumed my regular check-ups, analysis, ultrasound, and viremia and with my local doctor who I could trust – but knowing fore well I needed to be patient.

My blood tests were within normal limits, the eco was normal, I had low viremia and to my surprise my Fibro Scan results showed a F1 result. Something happened.

Did my liver regenerate during pregnancy? I could not get a clear answer from doctors regarding this theory... "Possibly" answered a doctor "but this is quite unusual".

Prior to my positive liver scan results and during treatment I would be able to reduce my chances of getting liver scarring, but was aware of having some side effects. I was afraid I could not cope with my daily needs, family, and work.

I am now fortunate to say, I’m living a normal life with my family. I do attend my regular check-ups and I continue living a “balanced” lifestyle.

When I was diagnosed with the hepatitis B virus I went through many emotional feelings: a fear of telling friends because I would be judged and isolated; a fear for applying for certain jobs knowing that I could be medically tested and rejected; confusion; sadness and all these because people are not informed and don’t know how to react and manage a situation like this.

My advice: do not be passive; Test yourself and get vaccination. A vaccine exists to protect you and your loved ones.

I am totally convinced that in the near future a treatment will be available, which will provide a for cure hepatitis B, like hepatitis C.

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