Kristen’s Story: Stop the Stigma


Blog Subjects


I contracted Hep-C more than likely from intravenous drug use sometime in my early twenties.
I had thought that bleach would kill off the virus and when I was told that it doesn't I assumed I
had it. It was at that point (no pun intended) that I became even more reckless. If I hadn't caught
it before, I most definitely did then.

I didn’t officially get diagnosed until I had found out I was pregnant. I felt a lot more shame
about it around this time. Constantly worried about passing it. Always feeling like people were
judging me, this new mom-to-be with this stigmatized virus that stamps "drug-addict" on your
forehead unfairly. My OBGYN doctor was absolutely amazing, thankfully. She addressed my
concerns and never made me feel less than and we were on the same page of delivering a
healthy baby.

I received treatment within the next year after giving birth to my daughter, who thankfully
didn’t contract Hep-C. Knowing there was only a small chance of it happening at all definitely
eased anxieties. Treatment was really harsh. I had the mutant strain which required interferon at
the time to kill it off. I was sick as sick can be, and horribly depressed. The hardest part was
having insurance cut off half way into treatment. I had turned 26, just had a baby, started a new
job and halfway through an intensive treatment.

I ended up paying out of pocket and finishing it. I don’t believe AHCCCS covered it then.
I think today people have an even better chance at receiving treatment with a lot less harsh
medication regiment. If anything were to happen and I contracted it again, I wouldn't be as
hesitant knowing what I know now. I would find a provider and get tested regularly and get into
treatment as soon as possible so I wouldn’t have to worry anymore. I had a lot more energy
when all was said and done. I hope more people get into treatment and that knowledge
continues to be spread to stop the stigma.

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