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July 28, 2017 9:01 pm EST
Updated: July 31, 2017 8:11 am EST

Saskatoon joins in for World Hepatitis Day

WATCH: For years, Eva Sinclair wondered what was wrong with her health -- it turns out she was living with hepatitis C.

For years, Eva Sinclair wondered what was wrong with her health.

It turns out she was living with hepatitis C.

READ MORE: Liver foundation urging Canadians to get tested for hepatitis C

“I was so sick. I was breaking down,” Sinclair explained.

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“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.

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Many people, like Sinclair, will live decades without knowing they’re infected.

READ MORE: Over 1,300 patients potentially exposed to hepatitis B and C at Edmonton hospitals

“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.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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