* Jake is not his real name
‘Now that my liver is working better, everything is better.’
Curing hepatitis C and taking care of his liver health has been a long journey for Jake, but the end result has made it all worthwhile.
LIFE BEFORE TREATMENT
Jake has mild haemophilia B. He first found out he had hep C as a young boy in the 1980s. It had been transmitted through the blood products used to treat his haemophilia.
Throughout his youth his liver health was monitored regularly, with only small differences over time. Then suddenly in his 30s his liver health started deteriorating rapidly.
‘The damage to my liver happened so quickly. For years there was no change, then suddenly it went from bad to much worse.’
Back then the standard treatment for hep C was a triple therapy with telaprevir, interferon and ribavirin, but Jake’s treatment was unsuccessful.
‘That was really disappointing and I was very upset. The next year I had another biopsy and they told me I had definitely developed cirrhosis. Things got really bad for me then. I felt horrible, tired and very anxious.’
Desperate, he applied for a clinical trial with Harvoni® (ledipasvir and sofosbuvir), one of the DAA (direct acting antiviral) therapies for hepatitis C that are now widely available in Australia.
‘I had one tablet a day for 12 weeks. Side effects? Some confusion and blurry vision, but my liver was in pretty bad shape so it might have been something else. It all returned to normal as soon as I finished treatment. It was a piece of cake compared to interferon.’
When he received his results showing he had been cured of hep C, Jake was not surprised.
‘I already knew. I felt different. I felt good’
MANAGING HIS LIVER HEALTH
Although his hep C has been cured, Jake had cirrhosis before treatment, which means he needs ongoing liver health monitoring – 6-monthly checks at the liver clinic that he builds into his routine health reviews.
‘I don’t think anyone likes to have health checks all the time, but it is definitely peace of mind. If they find something, they can act on it straight away. You don’t want to find out down the track when there is not much you can do.’
Since his hep C cure, Jake’s liver health has improved remarkably.
‘I still have a bit of liver damage now, but it is not nearly as bad as before treatment. It’s amazing.
‘Now that my liver is working better, everything is better. I have as much energy as when I was 21 years old. My moods are better. I don’t get itchy, I don’t get brain fog, I feel fine after a big meal.’
Jake has made changes to his lifestyle to take care of his health generally and thinks this has made a difference to his liver health recovery.
‘I do help my body a lot. I haven’t drunk alcohol in 14 years. I don’t smoke. I walk a lot. I eat a Mediterranean diet and don’t eat much red meat or sugar.’
HIS MESSAGE TO OTHERS?
‘No one should live with hep C, especially these days. Treatment has never been easier.’
‘Make the effort to have treatment and follow up on your cirrhosis. Life’s too short to take chances.’