For 20 years, I’ve been advocating for people living with hepatitis C. I was diagnosed with hep C (formerly known as non-A, non-B hepatitis) in the early days of George H.W. Bush’s presidency. Clinton was president during my first treatment; George W. Bush resided during my second treatment. Obama held the office when I was cured.
In those years, hepatitis C never attracted much attention. Obama did more than other presidents did, but I am comparing his work to nothing, which is what previous presidents did. Hep C doesn’t garner public outcry. It doesn’t tear at the hearts of people and policy makers like Zika-induced microencephalopathy in babies does. It’s easy to see the innocence in babies. Adults with hep C don’t get much sympathy.
I believe that society turns away from people with hep C because it makes giant assumptions: a) that people acquired hepatitis C from drugs, b) drug users deserve the consequences of drug use, c) treating drug users is a poor investment since they will just go out and get infected again, and d) that babies don’t get hep C. But all of these assumptions are myths. Let’s take a closer look.