William is from Massachusetts, America.
He was diagnosed with hepatitis B in 1996, hepatitis C in 1989.
I am 46 years young and tri-infected with hepatitis C, hepatitis B, and HIV. I also have several other health problems, including asthma, COPD, hypoglycemia, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and so on. In September 1983, I had just started ninth grade in a vocational high school and was taking the courses I had dreamed of. I had been delivering newspapers and had saved up enough money to buy a moped. It was my first taste of freedom. I was 14 years old.
Around the second week of October, two guys jumped me for my moped. I was stabbed with a long screwdriver; it went in my back on the right side and out the front of me. It was cold outside, and the metal felt like ice as it went through me. My sweatshirt was pitched up like a tent because the screwdriver was sticking out about four or five inches from my body. It was a pain like no other I’ve experienced, even to this day.
After jumping me, the guys ran. One yelled, “You have to go back and get that. You have to finish him. Kill him. He saw us.” I knew the guy who stabbed me.
I tried reaching around to pull the screwdriver out, but I couldn’t reach it. Then I tried to push it out from the front side, but it was too painful. I still had my moped and could hear them coming back to finish me off. One was yelling to the other, “No witnesses!” I don’t know how I managed to get back on the moped and start it, but I once I did, I floored it full throttle. I got a good running speed, but he caught up to me. He grabbed the screwdriver and pulled it out of me. Within seconds, I felt nice and warm.
I thanked God for getting me out of there just in time. I only lived about an eight-minute drive from where this happened, and I wasn’t going to stop until I got home. When I got to my house, my older brother and his friends were hanging out. That nice warm feeling I had when they guy pulled the screwdriver out of me wasn’t because of the cold steel leaving my body; it was from all the blood that was flowing out of me. I started feeling cold again. The last thing I remember was looking at my boots; they were filled with blood.
I woke up in the hospital. I don’t remember much except for the doctor telling me to take it easy. I was hooked up to IVs and had tubes down my throat. The screwdriver had completely pierced my lung, so I had needed surgery. The doctor told me I was lucky, as I could have drowned in my own blood. I had received seven units of blood. The doctor said another 1/16th of an inch and I would have been paralysed; it came that close to severing stuff. They were surprised I still had all my movements and functions. A couple of days later, I was home. They caught the one that stabbed me. He got two years!
A few months later, I was having some health problems. My mother had worked at the hospital and heard rumours going around about the blood bank having used contaminated blood. She had my blood tested. My labs indicated that I had HIV and viral hepatitis. I had just turned 15. Since then, I’ve had doctors tell me I only had about six months to live. I’ve been hospitalised twice with Pneumocystis pneumoniaserious (an infection that causes inflammation and fluid buildup in the lungs). I’ve been taking HIV meds from the very beginning. I’m still here. My T-cell count is 600 and my HIV viral load is undetectable. I have the HIV under control.
My main concern over the last 10 years has been the hepatitis C. I have genotype 1a, which until recently was one of the toughest ones to have. I just started Harvoni. It’s been seven days now. The side effects aren’t too bad, considering all the other meds I have taken over the years. Harvoni has a high cure rate, and I’m hoping it works for me. My AST is 34 and my ALT is 31.
I haven’t been an angel over the years. Once I found out what I had, I stopped caring and began partying and doing drugs for over 20 years. But, I got tired of not caring and started taking care of myself. I hope my story can help others, and inspire them not to give up, and to take care of themselves. Yes, some of the medications can be brutal at times, but they are well worth it. I’ve always prayed for a hepatitis C drug like Harvoni to come out. My prayers have been answered.
Note: Since 2016 new-generation treatments have been funded in New Zealand to treat the hepatitis C virus. These treatments have fewer side effects, a shorter treatment duration and higher cure rate than previous interferon treatments.
© The Hepatitis Foundation of New Zealand 2016