CEO, Living Positive Victoria
“I am a Hep Hero because I believe that by being out and open about being hepatitis positive is the only way to reduce the stigma and discrimination that continues to force people living with hepatitis to live in secret and shame.”
I found out I was HCV positive in 2000 a few years after being diagnosed as HIV positive. I believe that I contracted HCV from my sexual partner. I decided to start treatment for HCV in 2007 and was on treatment for 48 weeks. The first 6 months were rough – but the last 6 months were awful. I experienced an array of side-effects - headaches, muscle aches, fatigue, nausea, and was finally put on anti-psychotics to control my anxiety and depression, which was spiraling out of control. I nearly lost my job, was a pain in the arse to be around and retreated into a shell so far I thought I would never come out.
But I did.
I am now living HCV free and aware and I am committed to ensuring that those going on treatment are supported through the process and raising awareness of the stigma and discrimination that those living with HCV face across our community.
I am currently supporting my partner who is finishing his final weeks of HCV therapy on the new front line treatments. I work in the community based health care sector with a focus upon supporting people living with HIV and am proud to be a partner with Hepatitis Victoria on projects and programs raising awareness of blood borne viruses and sexually transmissible infections.
Hepatitis affects over 400,0000 Australians yet very few people know about this. The stigma and discrimination that people living with hepatitis face comes from across the community and is also manifest as self-stigma and shame. We need to break down the walls that keep ourselves away from care and support and that perpetuate risk across our communities.