We had just wrapped up a three day conference for Help4Hep, and I was wearing a shirt, a shirt I originally wore for a press conference against the BRCA (The awful ACA replacement which was on the senate floor last year.) A form fitting black cotton T-shirt that reads: “Hello, My pre-existing condition is Hepatitis C.” The shirt’s purpose was to bring to people’s attention two things: One that pre-existing conditions aren’t really visible, but they are common, and two, that Hepatitis C is among them, and I have it. Even while being cured of Hep C, in the eyes of the medical world and insurance I will forever be a Hepatitis C patient.
Maybe it was because I was standing alone before we boarded, maybe it’s because I was visible, sitting in the front, but regardless why the next series of events happened, it’s unfortunate that they did.
I was seated in the front row, and I was talking with the lady seated next to me about Hepatitis C. My shirt was a conversation starter, earlier I’d explained the prevalence and the cure to a few others who’d asked. She was explaining to me that her mother had it and we spoke about the cure, to which she seemed surprised, but often people are unaware of it, so I went into more detail. I explained that there’s a lot of ignorance around the virus, and the cure, largely due to stigma about even talking about.