Friday, January 9, 2015

A welcome negative

A couple of months ago, my doctor emailed me and advised me to get a test for Hepatitis C. She knew from my history that I had had a transfusion in 1984 when I had a hysterectomy. In the early and middle 1980s, blood donors were not tested for anything. It wasn't until HIV and AIDS viruses were identified that such testing was done. And even if there had been testing in 1984, they wouldn't have tested for Hep C as no one knew yet that it existed.

Hep C is a nasty form of hepatitis in that it works silently for decades in the liver before producing cirrhosis and cancer. It's contracted through transfusion, IV drug use, or sexual intercourse with an infected partner. Researchers estimate that a million Americans have it and don't know they do so they are encouraging people, especially those 50-70, to get tested.  New drugs make early treatment possible.

I put off taking the test until after the holidays. I didn't want to deal with the changes this would bring. I don't have any symptoms but I was in an at-risk group. So why not me? At our annual News Year's intentions gathering, one of the questions was where's one place you need to set aside fear and just do something. So when I returned from retreat, I called the lab for an appt and went the next day. I had to wait 48 hours for results and they were negative. A huge flood of relief.

The Hep C virus

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