Clarke, 39, lives in Waihi with his wife and four teenage sons. He found out he was a hepatitis B carrier when he was 18. Like many people with hepatitis B, he likely contracted the virus as a child from one of his parents.
Fortunately, the virus doesn’t have much of an impact on Clarke’s life. “I just have to be more careful about some things. I need to make sure I am eating well, exercising, not drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes. I also need to be careful what medications I take, because some can be really bad for my liver.
“The motivation to keep up with my kids is what keeps me on the straight and narrow.”
Clarke, a policy advisor, has been enrolled in the Hepatitis Foundation’s hepatitis B monitoring programme since he was diagnosed.
“The monitoring is really good. I think a lot of people think monitoring and taking blood is just using someone as a number – that they aren’t getting benefit from it. But the blood tests do help because it gives you an indicator of how healthy you are.”
Hepatitis Foundation community nurse Helen Purcell has monitored Clarke since day one.
“Having someone turn up to your house and have a face-to-face relationship with you is really valuable. Monitoring can be perceived badly because some people don’t understand what the numbers mean when they get their blood results, so it’s really important to have someone explain what the results mean.
“Helen is great at explaining the results. Having a nurse visit you and provide support is important to have and it shows that the Foundation cares.
“I think monitoring is really important because it gives people hope. At least if you know what condition your health is in you then have control and are informed of what your choices are. You need to look after yourself. Doctors and nurses can tell people to look after themselves but at the end of the day it’s up to you to make a change.”
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© The Hepatitis Foundation of New Zealand 2016