Most people are surprised to learn they have hepatitis C. Many people believe they were never at risk for acquiring this virus, so they cannot imagine how they contracted it. Other people have a definable risk factor, such as a history of intravenous drug use, but feel that it occurred such a long time ago that it has no relevance. And some people do not know exactly how they contracted it. In fact, the CDC now recommends that all baby boomers – those born between 1945 and 1965 -- get tested for HCV. It is normal to have a lot of questions, and to feel the stigma attached to having a potentially infectious disease.
To get past that feeling, get the right type of support -- both medical and emotional.
For a person with HCV, finding the right doctor is very important. Although HCV can be cured, in many instances, someone with chronic HCV will be under the care of the same doctor for many years or possibly his or her entire life. There are many different kinds of doctors who evaluate and treat people with liver disorders. It is essential to find a doctor who has a significant amount of experience in taking care of people who have HCV. Information about HCV rapidly changes. Thus, unless the doctor deals with HCV multiple times a day, it is unlikely that he or she will be up to date with information.
The Internet may be considered a double-edged sword when it comes to HCV support. There is just as much misinformation about the disease as there is accurate information. The number of Internet web sites continues to grow at an explosive rate. It can be difficult for the lay person to determine which information is correct and which is not. It is most important for the patient using the Internet to determine who is sponsoring the web site -- is it a reputable liver specialist or someone trying to sell a product? Is it another patient giving his/her opinion on HCV or is it a not-for-profit hepatitis-related foundation?