Since I found out I am positive for HCV in 2000 the question I hear most from friends, family, nurse, doctors, everybody, is "How did you get it?" Having been an RN in acute psychiatry in my 20s and had various blood products put into me including Gamma Globulin, I actually have several risk factors, but I suspect the right answer to the question is probably, "I did IV drugs 3 times when I was 22." But, man, is that hard to say :-( now that I'm 61 and a semi-retired university professor, so I usually say "Im not sure" even to doctors. Shame? I really hate that question "How did you get it?" and in clinical terms it is irrelevant isn't it?
Thoughts and experiences?
Oh, one month post-EOT here. Still not too well. Trying not to sweat it.
Yes, totally irrelevant, but I guess their curiosity gets the better of them. That question annoys me also, but I'm asked very infrequently. Since they are only asking to satisfy their own curiousity and it doesn't matter one bit in how you acquired HCV, whatver answer you choose to give is sufficient. This is very personal and its no ones business what mistakes we might have made in the distant past. Share what you feel comfortable with. If we knew everyone's dirty little secrets I think our heads would spin.
Congrats on EOT. Recovery time can vary, so hope you begin to feel better soon. At about one month I started to notice a gradual improved which gets better over time. Best to you.
It's clinically relevant only in that people who contract HCV through transfusion don't seem to clear on their own. The 20% who are antibody+ only, and clear without tx, all come from people who acquired it from tattoos, poorly autoclaved dentists tools, etc. Sometimes when someone showed that much interest in the subject I'd tell them irritating, useless, factoids like that, then steer the conversation around to genotype or pegylation or something that really interests me. When their eyes glaze over I feel like I've done my part for the HCV community that day.
Although I don't get asked that often, when I do I say, " I don't know it could be from a number of different ways," then I share with them ways you can contract the virus.
And it's true. Just cause you did IV drugs doesn't mean you didn't get it from your dentist or a tattoo etc.
The truth is just like any virus or illness, it doesn't matter how you got it other than knowing how it's spread to prevent sharing it with others.
What matters is keeping your liver healthy.
When the question comes from healthcare providers it doesn't bother me all that much,i give them the benefit of the doubt,I figure its for stat purposes and finding out what approach they will have when it comes to treating you,to know how you got it determines when you got it.It helps them determine how much liver damage you most have in correlation with biopsies or fibroscans.This way they can also have an idea how fast the progression is ect....It's all part of building up your case to see if you need to be treated or not.
There certainly a stigma that goes along with having Hep C.I'v been a quadriplegic for 22 years now and I still get that question often "what happened,or how did you become disabled"....It's only a natural response people have when they are faced with someone who as suffered a lost or as got a disease,lost a job,got a divorce..first questions are always what happened or how did you get it.
What I'm sick of hearing is the word "karma" it is used losely in popular vernacular as an expression meaning you get what you deserve.
I had this question only once, I was almost to say: from another doctor or nurse who was too lazy to disinfect properly the equipment they used for surgery.
As if it will help me in anyway knowing... or them... What difference does that make? Oh yea, if it is from a blood transfusion the patient could claim some money...since I cannot prove that is because their poor service, I can't..
This is a great thread! I'm with OH in trying to turn those questions into teaching opportunities, and I usually try to educate them on the many ways it was spread in the past and how important it is for people to be tested. Most people change their demeanor from blunt curiosity to a much more sensitive attitude as it dawns on them that they may have been exposed in the past too. If you want to keep things quick and simple then I think the best approach is to pick a method of infection that you feel more or less comfortable saying and give that to them (without any concern as to whether its true). Truthfulness is not required when answering questions that shouldn't have been asked.
Usually, if I mention I have Hep C, the first question I get is: "Is it contagious?"
Then I do the education bit~ If I am asked, point blank, how I got it, usually explain that before 1992, the medical equiptment wasn't sterilized withthe knowledge that there was even a Hep C virus around, so many more accidents occured, during invasive surgery, or even dental procedures. I put the emphasis on "blood-toblood" contact, and then give concrete examples.
If I am talking with people, who I know are still using I.V. drugs, then
I taylor the convo to include specific facts, such as "draw water" contaimination, whichis something a non drug user would never have to worry about~
Thanks so much for all the wonderful and intriguing answers. What I'm really concerned about though, is how reluctant I am to answer with what is most likely the truth: I guess I got it from occasional IV drug experimentation in the early 1970s before we all knew this behavior was dangerous. I am guessing many of you might have a similar answer if you were pushed to narrow it down. I am guessing too that we don't want to give that answer because of the enormous discrimination and prejudice it evokes? Just as people with HIV were once assumed to be gay and the virus their punishment for having sex with other men, so too, we are assumed to be drug addicts and HCV our punishment for our sins? There are a number of social and cultural studies of HCV+ people that indicate this. How to combat it? Give what I think is the most correct answer and then hope somehow that when people see I'm a nice, clean living college prof., they'll treat me nice? How to protect myself yet do my bit to educate people?
Also, thanks for the good wishes about EOT. First post-EOT PCR next week, but I'm too busy getting off all the opiates they gave me for bone pain to worry about relapse. Never had to do that before and I feel punky, but its easier than quitting ciggies was :-)
Good one on you, for gettingoff the opiates asap!
Ya know.....I have admitted on this Forum, that I probably got Hep C from I.V. drug abuse, and quickly added that I have 14 yrs clean and sober, but there is always going to be many people who will judge.
I do muse about this subject matter, the same as you, and I realize that probably many ignorant people would think I was a "scum-bag", for using needles. I know in my heart-of hearts, that I am an awesome person, so I dont care what a strangers' opinion of me is.
It depends on the situation. I didn't go on my FaceBook page, and announce, "hey, I'm SVR 12 weeks, lets have a party, I'm not gonna die early, after all!!!!"
You could honestly say, " there's many ways I could have gotten it, I'm not quite sure." Which is true.
You probably did get it from drug use but that doesn't mean you did. You also could have gotten it from your dentist before they began the 1980s.
You could list possibilities, like the dentist, a manicure, hospital procedures, sharing a razor, etc.
A few weeks ago someone asked and I bluntly said, " probably while I was using drugs."
The woman looked at me so shocked and blurted out, " You don't look like you use drugs."
I laughed and said, "well that was a long time ago."
Those doctors should be reported.
We as patients have the right to be treated respectfully and with dignity.
At the hospital where my liver clinic is located, they hand out copies of the patients bill of rights.
If I were you, I'd go to over the head of those doctors and report them for unprofessional behavior.
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