Saskatoon joins in for World Hepatitis Day
For years, Eva Sinclair wondered what was wrong with her health.
It turns out she was living with hepatitis C.
“I was so sick. I was breaking down,” Sinclair explained.
“As I learned more about hepatitis C, I realized I wasn’t a hypochondriac.”
“I wasn’t going crazy. This was my liver that was sick and I needed to get it better.”
Sinclair figures she contracted hep C sometime between 1978 and 1998, from either a tattoo, IV drug use, or a hospital stay.
Sinclair wasn’t diagnosed until 2013. She was cured of hepatitis C in 2015.
“I lived for a lot of years and I knew that I had it, but from the street, I had heard it’s only hepatitis,” Sinclair said.
“It’s not just hepatitis. It affects your whole life.”
Sinclair now works at AIDS Saskatoon as a drop-in supervisor. She says she wants to stop the stigma around hepatitis.
On Friday, AIDS Saskatoon and the Saskatchewan Infectious Disease Care Network joined together with other community organizations to host a barbecue, offering a chance for people to get tested.
“Saskatchewan has really high rates of hepatitis C and not everybody knows that. This is a good way to engage the community in a positive way,” said Jason Mercredi, the executive director of AIDS Saskatoon.
Hepatitis C is a virus that infects the liver and it is most commonly spread through human contact with infected blood.
Many people, like Sinclair, will live decades without knowing they’re infected.
“It’s a silent disease that moves very slowly. It affects your liver very, very slowly. It causes inflammation in your body which can affect other systems,” explained Lesley Gallagher, a hepatitis C clinical treatment support nurse.
A simple 12-week treatment can cure hep C and testing only takes a matter of minutes.
“We are now able to test for hep C using a little, simple point-of-care test with a response in 20 minutes,” Gallagher said.
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