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A Message of Freedom

In observance of October’s Liver Awareness month, I am sharing stories from the front lines of those who are working to raise awareness around hepatitis C issues, and are changing the future.  Kevin Maloney contracted hepatitis C, genotype 1a, went through treatment and came out the other side, free and clear of hepatitis C. Although he is cured, Kevin is involved and engaged in helping others with hepatitis C so that they may know freedom that comes from being cured.

I CURED HEPATITIS C by Kevin Maloney

Nearly two and a half years ago when I heard of my HIV and Hepatitis C diagnosis; I was terrified. As if having HIV alone was not a frightening diagnosis I was dealt a double whammy.  I was what is called co-infected, or what I like to call co-diagnosed. I was more scared hearing my HEP C diagnosis and the treatment that would ensue, than I was hearing that I had HIV.  I knew about HIV, but I knew nothing about Hepatitis C.

How could I have gotten Hepatitis C?  Hepatitis C only happens to IV drug users and Celebrities like Pamela Anderson and Naomi Judd. This is how I related to Hepatitis C.  Though I did in the past experiment with recreational drugs, I never stuck a needle in my arm to do them. How did this happen to me?

This co-infection has become an epidemic in New York City and other places around the World, and it’s occuring more in people who are NOT IV drug users. It is happening through those engaging in unsafe sex, spreading just as HIV does. 20 -25 percent of people infected with HIV are also infected with Hepatitis C, conversely 5-10 percent diagnosed with Hepatitis C are also co-diagnosed with HIV.   Nearly 4 million people in the United States alone are infected with HEP C and 1 in 5 people do not even know it.  Just as with HIV you can prevent, it and be tested for it, and you too can have a chance at curing it Hepatitis C, unlike HIV – which there is currently no cure for. The key is catching it early to give you the best chance possible at curing it.

After 9 months since starting Hep C treatment (3 months post treatment), finally a happy day. I received my numbers for my 3 month follow up post Hepatitis C treatment, and the Hepatits C is gone, it has been cured! At week 6 into treatment I went from a Hep C VL of 7 million to undectable and have remained that way.  At the end of treatment my CD4 was 240,  my platelets were very low, and my wbc had dropped at one point to 1.0 and is now 3.0.  My HIV remained undectable throughout treatment, and still is today.

Thankfully, my numbers are on the rebound. My CD4 has gone from 240 right after hep C treatment to 311 three months later, and is expected to keep climbing. My WBC was 2.0 after treatment and is now 3.0, My AST/ALT (liver function tests) once off the chart, are now in the 20’s (normal), kidneys are functioning fine, and my platelet count is back to normal.  It’s amazing how everyday I am feeling better and better.

This news came with cautious elation Why? Because 6 months post treatment is the final indicator of viral clearance/cure, but my doctor said I could celebrate with this last test.  Also, I know not everyone is as fortunate as I to have caught there Hep C early, to even treat it, and further, cure it.  For many the battle with HEP C is life long.  So, while my case was a success story, I keep in mind all of you who are currently fighting Hepatitis C. With emerging new that will be less toxic with shorter treatment times, cure rates will be a certainty for most and I will be just one of hundreds of thousands cured. Stay strong, hang in there, this to shall pass.

To everyone:  If you do not know your Hepatitis C status I URGE you to get tested. Many of the places that offer free HIV Testing will also offer Hepatitis C testing or be able to refer you to a place that does.  Visit http://www.aids.gov/ to find a test location near you.

Kevin’s Blog: ICuredHepC

Facebook: ICuredHepC

Twitter: @ICuredHepC

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