Hepatitis Queensland Board Member, Community Advocate Hepatitis B
"I am a Hep Hero because too many people are still dying from liver disease and cancer caused by chronic viral hepatitis and I feel a need to help prevent it.”
I am of Swiss origin, married with two children, and love living in Australia. I also have chronic hepatitis B but that does not define me as a person.
My journey with viral hepatitis started a long time ago, most likely in early childhood but I may never know.
I was diagnosed as a teenager when little information and no treatments were available. Over the years, the viral activity silently and sneakily caused some liver damage, but I was lucky and received antiviral treatment just in time. My early cirrhosis has now regressed pretty much back to normal.
Interestingly, hepatitis has given me more good than bad.
I have found a new purpose in life. I did some research on hepatitis B and met some amazing people, both working in the field and affected by viral hepatitis, who inspired me to be involved and try to make a difference.
They are my true Hep Heroes and have taught me so much. I became a positive speaker and I am loving it (you only ever get positive feedback).
I am also co-hosting an online patient support forum, am a member of the board of Hepatitis Queensland, and am often invited to participate in panel discussions or reference groups related to hepatitis B.
Most importantly, however, I am currently working on a PhD project which aims to reduce the number of undetected and untreated cases of chronic hepatitis B in a high risk population, the Hmong community of Far North Queensland.
It is important to get the message out because not enough people are currently receiving treatment. Doctors, health workers, and people potentially at risk of viral hepatitis all need to learn more and become more aware to ensure everyone who needs it can get treated and prevent liver damage. In addition, the more people talk about it the less stigma there will be.