Bob is a member of our National Patient Advisory Committee, click here to learn more about NPAC.
In 1992, after receiving results from a blood test, Bob Rice learned that he had chronic hepatitis C, a potentially life-threatening disease. Confused and unaware of the disease, he asked to be tested again because he couldn’t believe his diagnosis.
Bob believes he contracted the hepatitis C virus during the 1970s or 80s, possibly from intravenous drug use, being in the military, or a blood transfusion.
Bob’s physician recommended that he start taking an interferon-based treatment. After only 16 weeks – a fraction of the way through his treatment plan – Bob stopped the medication because he was experiencing terrible side effects, including depression, and his disease was not improving. Seven years later, Bob learned that his liver had become cirrhotic. He was prescribed another treatment, but this one also failed to cure him.
While this might have discouraged others, Bob remained hopeful. “I wanted to get more involved in education — teaching people, letting them know that there was hope,” he said. Bob joined a support group, started to get involved with the American Liver Foundation (ALF) and went back to school to become an alcohol abuse counselor.
During that time, Bob’s cirrhosis worsened and in 2010 he underwent a liver transplant. Although Bob recovered well from the transplant, he needed to conquer the HCV or it would begin to attack his new liver. Also during that time, Bob went back to school.
In 2014, Bob was told about a newly approved treatment that could potentially offer a better chance at achieving a cure. He was prescribed the treatment in 2015 and achieved a cure, as the virus is no longer detectable in his blood.
After being declared cured, Bob was elated. He continued to follow his passion of teaching others and sharing what he had learned throughout his journey with hepatitis C at a recovery home for 95 men 2 nights a week.
“A lot of people are just like I was. They don’t understand hepatitis C or know anything about how it is contracted,” he said. “That’s why I want to try and educate as many people as possible about it.”
Today, Bob continues his mission to increase awareness of hepatitis C and share his story of hope with others.
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