In 1977 I was hospitalized after sustaining a hand injury that required surgery. The day after completing the pre- surgery lab work, I was visited by a nurse who explained that they discovered what she referred to as “non-A, non-B hepatitis.” She also explained that the infection was acute (newly developed) and generally quite mild. It was twenty years later in 1997 however, after having been also diagnosed with HIV that I learned that the prior diagnosis was now identified as Hepatitis C. The HIV diagnosis quickly became my primary point of focus as new treatments for HIV/AIDS had become available and I like thousands of other Americans was anxious to get started managing the HIV infection.
It was disheartening to be informed at a time when my HIV infection was under control and well managed due to the advent of Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) to simultaneously know that the Hepatitis C infection had led to cirrhosis of the liver. I lived with the uncertainty of this co-infection until 2005 when I was offered a combination of Pegylated Interferon and Ribavirin to treat the Hepatitis C infection. Unfortunately after a full year of treatment the infection was not eradicated.
Fast forward to 2014 and once again I went through a six month regimen of treatment with one of the newly improved therapies. I’m happy to say that this time the treatment was successful and today I am free of Hepatitis C! Since shortly after my HIV diagnosis I’ve worked in a HIV primary care clinic and I’m both proud and excited that our focus of care now includes treatment for folks who are both HIV/HEP C co-infected as well as those who are in need of strictly for their Hepatitis C. These are indeed very exciting times.
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