World Hepatitis Day – 28 July 2021

This page was last updated: October 15th, 2021

“This virus has taken from me the best years of my life for the past 36 years.”
58 year old Stephen Smith was diagnosed with Hepatitis C during a check-up at his new GP surgery, Helston Medical Centre. After his diagnosis last month, he feels it is vitally important that many more people are tested and made aware of hepatitis and the consequence’s that can go with it when it goes undetected.

Stephen had been suffering with a pain in his stomach and back for several years and had undergone numerous tests and procedures to investigate his symptoms and unexplained abnormal blood results.

One month after the worrying diagnosis, Stephen has been given a specialised liver ultrasound which has shown the extent of the damage to his liver, currently stage 2 progressing to stage 3. He has also been put on a 12-week course of drugs called Epclusa. Thankfully, Epclusa is a highly effective medicine for most sufferers. Early diagnosis and treatment increases the chances of a full cure and helps to prevent or slow any liver damage.

The former London Underground worker was also shocked to learn that he must have contracted the illness back in 1985, from blood transfusions he had received following a serious accident that completely severed the artery, tendon and nerves in his right leg. Stephen has been in contact with the Hepatitis C Trust in London and describes the support he has received as ‘extremely helpful’.

“After finding out what Hepatitis C can do to your body and your mind, it’s all making so much sense why I’ve been, for such a long time, a depressed, moody, tired, lethargic person with constant aches and pains. It has upset my family and there’s also the awful task of telling my daughter, who was born in 1994, to have a hepatitis test as she may have been infected through it by my blood during birth.

This virus has taken from me the best years of my life for the past 36 years, I’m furious to think that a simple blood test over the past 36 years would have highlighted this and I wouldn’t of been the person who I’ve been for nearly 4 decades, this virus has stopped me from being happier, fitter, stronger potentially, and a simple blood test could have done that for me” Stephen explained.

Today is World Hepatitis Day, an annual event which aims to raise awareness of the disease to people like Stephen who previously knew nothing about Hepatitis or how the virus can spread by coming into contact with blood from an infected person. People may be at risk if they’ve ever shared drug injection equipment or had received a blood transfusion over 30 years ago that had not been screened. This year’s campaign ‘Hepatitis Can’t Wait’ is a global theme to highlight the need to accelerate hepatitis elimination efforts, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. With a person dying every 30 seconds from a Hepatitis related illness, we can’t wait to act on viral hepatitis.

Helen Hampton, Viral Hepatitis Specialist Nurse at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust said

“I’d like to thank Stephen for sharing his story to help us raise awareness. I strongly encourage anyone who feels they could be at any risk of having this virus to get tested as it is often hidden with no symptoms. Get tested today and together we can eliminate Hepatitis C.”

Read more about Hepatitis C symptoms.

Added on 30 July 2021, in News - General News

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