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World Hepatitis Day 28 July: Imagine not feeling tired


Imagine being diagnosed with a global top five infectious disease, and being told you will have had this for the last thirty or forty years. Then imagine hearing that the virus can be treated and cured with a short course of medication that could leave you feeling twenty years younger.

This is what hepatitis C patient, Greg Jackson heard just last month. Following a routine visit to his GP he was diagnosed after a simple blood test. After doing some reading around the subject Greg quickly saw the lack of patient stories associated with the virus due to previous stigma surrounding the virus.

Hepatitis C affects over 50,000 New Zealanders. that’s 1 in 100. Left untreated hep C can cause cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer and death. However, treatment is now fully funded and effective for 99%, after an 8 week course of medication patients report feeling years younger.

Greg is one of an increasing number of people coming forward with their stories. It’s common to hear they feel like they have been carrying around a sack of rocks on their back for the last 30 years, and once cured they emerge with renewed energy and a whole new lease of life.

Around the same time Greg was being tested for hep C, The Chills lead singer had just launched the Chills Film: The Triumph and Tragedy of Martin Phillips. In the film Martin shares his journey with hep C, and shows him facing his mortality with the disease, then coming to terms with the fact he can now plan for his future following a successful course of medication and being cured of hep25 C.

Both Greg and Martin have shared their stories to encourage others to get tested, treated and cured. The more voices and the more people are talking about the virus the greater the chance New Zealand can be one of the first countries in the world to eliminate hep C.

Patient advocacy group Hep C Action Aotearoa is running their “Imagine” campaign this World Hepatitis Day – 28 July – to encourage people just like Greg to get tested treated and cured.

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