timberland chukka boots Advocates push need for hepatitis C screening
At first, Steve Pollard felt like he just had a touch of the flu. Today, seven years and two liver transplants later, the Ottawa man is a vocal advocate for the need for hepatitis C screening.
you don get tested, you don know your status. They can fix you, said Pollard, 48.
Pollard was living decent life in 2009 when he first fell ill a family man who drank little and didn have the lifestyle often associated with the disease. But he did have one risk factor that has been identified as the most common element among the estimated 300,000 Canadians infected by hepatitis C: The year on his birth certificate.
Hepatitis C affects between 0.5 per cent and one per cent of the Canadian population, and the majority of those infected were born between 1945 and 1975, said Dr. Morris Sherman, a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto and chairman of the Canadian Liver Foundation.
Some may have been infected by shared needles in the age, but the most likely cause was improperly sterilized medical equipment back when glass syringes were just boiled in water between uses.
Some countries had particularly high infection rates, such as Italy, Eastern Europe, Egypt, Somalia, Vietnam and China, he said, often related to vaccination procedures.
more people were probably infected through medical procedures than any other form of transmission. Screening is a simple blood test that only has to be done once and can give a person the advance warning they need to be on the lookout for symptoms.
Though expensive, modern drugs offer a 95 per cent cure rate. And just knowing you are infected allows you to make lifestyle changes controlling your weight and limiting drinking,
for example that can keep the disease in check for a decade or more.
you don know you have (the disease), you can advocate for yourself, Sherman said.
if you know you have it, your liver disease might not be bad now, but in five or 10 years it might be, so now you can keep an eye on it. When it does cross that threshold, you can get treatment. Sherman said treatment will likely get cheaper when generic drugs become available. Untreated, the infection can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure. Pollard was so sick when he was diagnosed, the only treatment was a liver transplant.
The first one, at Montreal Saint Luc Hospital, was rejected. A second transplant was successful, but the liver failure led to encephalopathy, which has affected his brain and his memory.
affects your families in ways that are just devastating, said Pollard, who been married 19 years, and has three children and two grandchildren. in my family had to put their lives on hold. He got a tattoo as a teenager, but there is no way of knowing if that was the cause. For now, he says his health is stable, and for that he grateful.