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Shocked by Hepatitis C

What shocks you?

Most of us are shocked by the following:

  • The woman in India who was beaten, raped and thrown off a bus.
  • The Newtown shootings, and all the other similar shootings.
  • The fact that more soldiers who served in Afghanistan and Iraq have died from suicide than combat.

Hepatitis C shockHowever, few are shocked by the fact that approximately 41 people die from hepatitis C every day in the U.S. Or, that this virus causes more deaths in the U.S. than HIV does—15,000 people die every year from hepatitis C. Are you shocked that experts estimate that hepatitis C will cause one million cases of cirrhosis by 2020; or perhaps by the most shocking fact that the majority of those with hepatitis C do not know they have it.

Why aren’t we shocked? Is it because this isn’t news, or it isn’t a crime? Well, actually, it is news and it is a crime that we aren’t testing more people and offering them ways to manage, and even be cured from hepatitis C.

Perhaps you aren’t shocked since hepatitis C isn’t as brutal as the examples I used. However, you only have to witness one hepatitis C-related death to see that it is torture. Patients can bleed to death after a fragile blood vessel bursts in the esophagus. This is quick and humane compared to the final stages of liver failure. Imagine your belling swelling, so huge that the skin bursts like a water-filled balloon. Fluid accumulates in the legs, causing the ankles to bulge the size of thighs. The skin is unable to contain the fluid, and sticky, smelly ooze pours out. In men, the testes swell like small melons. Patients slip into a state of confusion, rendering them heartbreakingly incapable of remembering their own names let alone recognizing their loved ones.  The pain can be unbearable – felt by patients and those who watch them die.

Hepatitis C is shock-worthy; however, shock is useless without action. What are you doing to help stop those 41 daily deaths?

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