Dialog Box

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Neil Boal

Community Advocate

"I am a Hep Hero because I’d like to be open and honest about my status to break down the barriers.”

I have had haemophilia all of my life. In the mid 70’s I was diagnosed with hepatitis C (or Non A Non B as it was called) from a plasma treatment product.
 
In 1985 I was also diagnosed with HIV, also from the same plasma product.
 
I received a letter from the hospital advising me of my HIV status and telling me there was nothing to be worried about. At that time there wasn’t much awareness or information about the HIV virus.
 
It was also during this time that I had just met my wife, Julie, and moved to Byron Bay. Shortly afterwards the Grim Reaper Campaign came out. The campaign scared both Julie and I and we decided it was time to find out more.
 
I went to a GP and he explained HIV and hepatitis much more. This of course changed our lives forever. 
 
I kept everything to myself while living in Byron as I was in quite good health at the time.
 
There was a lot of hysteria at that time, mainly directed at drug users and the gay community. There was a lot of negative talk in the haemophilia community regarding gay people, which I felt was unfair as the gay community were one of the groups who were good enough to donate blood and help us live our lives as normally as possible.
 
Another reason I kept my status to myself was because I had a friend who also had haemophilia and I wanted to protect his privacy. After he died, I decided to become more open and to raise awareness everywhere I could.
 
I found it was liberating to actually tell people, especially people close to me, about my status. And I still find it liberating to this day.
 
I undertook treatment for my hepatitis C and after 12 months cleared the virus. I would strongly encourage others to seek out the information they need and consider treatment too.

Neil's message to others:

"We need to educate people. It is a lack of education and knowledge that causes discrimination. Become a Hep Hero and spread the real facts!"