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Hepatitis C is a silent disease so catch it early

(NC) Norman Everson had no idea he was infected with hepatitis C (HCV) when he was diagnosed about 15 years ago. Since that time, his symptoms of the disease have progressed, and he feels the effects. Norman says he wants to prevent this from happening to someone else. Early detection could have made all the difference.

“Hepatitis C has had a huge impact on my life,” says Norman. “I'm tired all the time, which stops me from being able to do some of the things that I would love to do.”

This story is one that's all too common in Canada where sources tell us that HCV affects between 250,000 and 400,000 people across the country. Left untreated, a person with HCV can become very ill, as the infection can cause scarring of the liver, liver failure and potentially liver cancer.

As Norman points out, HCV is a manageable disease if diagnosed early. There are very few symptoms, if any, so a person with hepatitis C might have it for many years before it's detected. Over the years, the disease will progress making it more difficult to manage. That's why it's important to speak to your doctor about getting tested if you think you may have been exposed to hepatitis C.

For people living in remote areas of Ontario, access to health care professionals with the expertise to treat hepatitis C may be limited. With this in mind, the University Health Network, alongside the pharmaceutical company, Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd., are partnering to improve care, education, and support for people with hepatitis C, particularly for those in remote communities.

Norman says he is lucky to have a supportive wife and family that have helped him cope with the burden of HCV. “There is hope for people with hepatitis C; it is an infection that can be managed,” he adds.

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Attention editors: This article is for distribution in Ontario only

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