People Like Me: Steve Copeland

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Steven Copeland
My name is Steven Copeland. I was diagnosed HIV positive, HCV positive in 1994, after coming out of a treatment center. I was an IV drug user. I started using substances at a very young age. 9 or 10 years old. Around the mid-80's, people started dying from AIDS. And we thought, you know, the mind of an addict is you can't really scare an addict. I ain't gonna get it, you know what I mean?

And sure enough, '94 when I treatment finally, I was in my 30's now and I mean, I had a 2 year old son, like, I just the disease was beating me down to the point where I wanted help. I finally asked for help. And that’s when I was diagnosed and found out. I was called back in. It took a couple weeks to get your results back then, so it was like 2 weeks prior to my discharge, they called me back and I'm like, why are they calling me back? So the suspicion started, because a lot of my friends were dying from AIDS at that time and I came in and

they told me I was positive for both. At that time, it was funny because HEP-C wasn't the big issue back then. The HIV meds were more of an issue, so that was my focus. Oh my god, I have HIV and as I live with both of these diseases it was actually the HEP-C that became more of a life threatening illness for me than the HIV. I got a liver specialist up here and then we started the Ribavirin Pegintron treatment. I did that treatment for about 6 months.

It suppressed the virus, but it didn't clear. I was having a hard time with side effects. They started me on it and I went back, my first lab was in 12 days I was undetectable in 12 days. I mean, the energy level went up. I mean, everything. My skin got better, I wasn't as itchy. My fatigue went away. One of the most unfortunate things about the new treatments are, if you're an active addict, they won't treat you.

You know what I mean, maybe if somebody knows they can be cured of this, you know the HEP-C, from their active addiction, maybe it'll encourage them to get clean. If you catch this early enough, you don't have to wait until you have advanced liver disease for it to present. Like you could find out earlier. So I encourage anyone from the baby boomer age to get tested. I think everybody should get tested. I mean, there's a treatment for it. There's hope, you know?