Nasim* contracted hepatitis C via a blood transfusion at a hospital in Pakistan but did not find out she had the virus until decades later. In this blog, she shares her story.
Like many people from Pakistan, hepatitis C has cast a long shadow over my family; affecting both my mother and I decades apart. I want to share my story in the hope that others can dismiss that shadow once and for all by getting tested and treated for the virus.
My mother died of hepatitis C and cirrhosis in the 1980s. At that time the virus hadn’t even been named and there was no cure for it. I helped care for my mother in the last years of her life and was heartbroken to lose her to what we would one day come to understand is a preventable disease.
Around 10 years after my mother’s death I had a blood transfusion following a miscarriage. I was given the blood transfusion at a hospital in Pakistan and I believe that is how I got hepatitis C.
Not long after this had happened my family and I moved to the UK. Life carried on for us as normal and I never noticed any hepatitis C symptoms. Like many others, I was totally unaware that I had the virus.
The advances in medicine have been phenomenal since my mother had the virus. It’s so easy to get tested, treated and cured now.
In 2016 I visited my GP to help me manage celiac disease and menopause. He noticed in my notes that I had a blood transfusion in Pakistan and recommended that I get a hepatitis C test.
When the results came back I was scared. I remembered what my mother had been through with the virus and that there was no help available to her.
I was reassured that there was now a cure and I was among the first group of people to be offered a tablet form of treatment. The treatment, which lasted for just a few months, went so smoothly that I can barely remember it. I had no side effects at all and was cured by the end of the treatment.
I recently completed Hepatitis C Awareness Training with The Hepatitis C Trust which has helped me to understand the virus even more and the way it impacts people in different South Asian communities.
So many of us have been affected and I want people to know that they do not have to be ashamed or do the journey alone.
The advances in medicine have been phenomenal since my mother had the virus. It’s so easy to get tested, treated and cured now and it should be done without delay before there is any lasting liver damage.
I never had any hepatitis C symptoms and would not have been tested if it wasn’t for my GP’s suggestion. I recommend that if you have ever had medical treatment abroad you get yourself tested – it will give you peace of mind if the test is negative and if it is positive you can start treatment straight away.
Let’s cast out the shadow of hepatitis C from our communities once and for all!
*This story was written under an alias. Names have been changed on the request of the author. The image used to illustrate this story is from iStock.