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CLICK HERE FOR NATALIE COLE'S VIDEO INTERVIEW
A discussion with Larry King about her need for kidney transplantation after only 4 mo. of hepatitis C treatments!

 


While A True Cure May Remain Elusive, There Is STILL Hope For Controlling Hepatitis C!!!
(But first we have to know what to believe!)

By Kev Krueger
Cofounder, National Hepatitis C Coalition, Inc.
 

Anyone who has never been tested for hepatitis C probably should be. Forget about so-called "high risk" groups that so many of our government institutions want us to believe are the only ones at risk for hepatitis C infection. EVERYONE SHOULD BE CONSIDERED A POSSIBLE RISK FOR A DIAGNOSIS OF HEPATITIS C. Most people may have had occasion to be exposed to the virus at sometime in their lives, either through past invasive medical procedures or through other methods not often discussed. Early diagnosis by simple blood test can make the difference whether the disease is merely a nuisance or whether it becomes a full-blown life-threatening illness.  Hepatitis C does not automatically mean a death sentence, and in the majority of cases where diagnosis is made early enough, the disease is no more than a mere nuisance.

While I'm thinking about it I'm going to answer one of the most common questions we receive from patients lately: "Aren't Naomi Judd and that guy from Aerosmith cured?" The answer is that these two individuals (and many others as well) have made such claims, but there still is no test that is able to accurately measure absolute zero virus in the body (current testing measures our blood, NOT what may be hiding in internal organs). Without reliable testing to confirm that the virus is completely gone from the entire body, there's no way to know whether it's truly eradicated or just hiding somewhere where it can't be detected, possibly to resurface at a later time. We've known far too many folks over the years who were told by their doctors that they were cured, only to learn years later that the virus was once again detectable. People feel crushed when this happens because most of us would like NOT to have to admit we've ever had this doggone disease in the first place! The word "remission" is really much more accurate in these situations anyway, and the word doesn't hurt our funding. Most people don't realize it, but our Congress doesn't believe we need anywhere near adequate funding for this disease because they think we already have a cure and don't need it - thanks to well-intentioned individuals who've gone to Washington, D.C. and led our leaders to believe accordingly. The strongest scientific evidence available indicates that hepatitis C is NOT a completely curable disease and those who claim to be "cured" of hepatitis C are merely practicing what might best be described as "hopeful thinking". These folks may very well be experiencing what is sometimes known as a "clinical cure", which indicates that the disease isn't presently detectable by current testing methods but there are no guarantees the virus is completely gone or that it might not resurface at a later time. 

Irregardless, If you've recently been diagnosed with hepatitis C, please know that THERE REALLY IS HOPE, no matter how progressed your disease may be, and no matter what you may have been told, but in order to know if a person has it, they MUST GET TESTED!!!

All of this confusion over whether hep C is curable or not is really more of an indictment as to how limited ALL testing related to the disease is rather than being proof of anything definite about the disease infection itself. Current methods of testing are just not sophisticated enough to be able to test for signs of the virus in other organs, the lymphatic system, or other parts of the body where the virus is believed to hide, even though a person's viral load may be undetectable. These limitations are why there have been numerous cases of organ transplantation where recipients ended up with hepatitis C even though the donor body had tested "clean" of the disease through current methods of testing. This is also why the Red Cross will not take blood donations from anyone who's ever tested positive for hepatitis C. They KNOW that all this "cure" talk is speculative. Something else I find interesting is the fact that not ONE doctor that I've been to since my diagnosis in 1994 believes there is a true cure for the disease, and I've been to many liver specialists since that time! 

Unfortunately though, there are most definitely unscrupulous medical practitioners out there who are misleading patients by telling them they're cured. We hear about this all the time and frankly, it's infuriating. We also hear from patients who've returned to drinking or other unhealthy behaviors after their doctors told them they were virus-free and as a result, some of these folks have ended up with progressed liver damage because of a virus that was not gone, but merely avoiding detection until a later time. Then there are those who have unintentionally infected others because they believed their doctors when they were told they were cured, so they stopped being careful with their blood. This is all due to bad information given to patients that were basically told what they wanted to hear. Don't fall for it!

Unfortunately there's probably little we can do about those who are unethical and think nothing of misleading patients, nor can we help patients themselves who refuse to use common sense in their daily lives. We can only pray that  both will wake up before it's too late and hope that the medical professionals in question will stop letting greed be their guiding force. Patients should be able to trust their doctors implicitly, but obviously some are not worthy of trust these days, and have blatantly violated that trust with their own patients. Dishonest and unethical doctors make the good ones look bad and it's too bad we can't weed them out. With so many really great physicians out there who are well educated about liver disease, there's absolutely NO reason why anyone should tolerate less than 100% honest and ethical medical care. Your doctor works for YOU, so don't hesitate to question advice or recommendations that don't seem right to you. It's YOUR body, and only you will suffer the consequences of blindly following bad medical advice.

If you have hep C and your liver doctor believes hepatitis C is curable, I have a challenge for him or her: Ask the doctor to prove their belief by taking the blood of one of their so-called "cured" hepatitis C patients (or yours if appropriate), and inject it into their own veins (and insist on being a witness to it). If the doctor refuses but still insists he can cure hep C, you may want to consider finding another specialist who truly knows the disease! Or, if you should possibly find a doctor who's willing to do this, PLEASE LET US KNOW ASAP!!! We'd like to see this ourselves and see if we can't get it on national TV! Of course we'd expect to see ample documentation proving everything is on the up and up. Then we'll see what happens when the doctor is tested after six months and later on.

Please don't get me wrong folks, I have no qualms with the medical establishment as a whole, and I have the utmost respect for honest medical professionals and their opinions. I'm very thankful that we're blessed to have good doctors to help us stay healthy, but we do have to be careful who we listen to because people are people and not all are ethical, regardless of their profession. One of my biggest complaints is with so-called medical "experts" who are making false claims about this disease without solid scientific data to support them and patients who want to say and do things publicly without thinking how they might be hurting the rest of us. I also detest those who are all too anxious to repeat bad information as fact, without taking the time to even use their own common sense to question the validity of what's being claimed. We have to use our heads folks, and take much of what we read and hear with a grain of salt.

Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control seems to be one of the worst of our government agencies for pointing the finger at hep C patients by promoting a terrible stigma that hurts so many so badly. I'm referring to their belief and ongoing campaign to convince America that the majority of patients with hepatitis C were infected from illicit drug use. I really don't like to have to badmouth people, but when downright misinformation is being published on their website, it's time to bring it to the attention of the public.

The National Hepatitis C Coalition, Inc. REFUSES to wear the stigma that says ours is a "druggies" disease, regardless of what our government agencies or anyone else would have us believe. Where is the data to support the claim that 60% of American's were infected in this way as they claim? It could be true or maybe it isn't, but it's wrong to assume such a thing without solid data to support such a theory, and this data does NOT exist. It's mere speculation and assumption, and it only serves to hurt us all. I've seen countless so-called "studies" used in attempt to persuade the public that hepatitis C infection is primarily the fault of those who have it and I'm STILL not buying it.   True: hepatitis C CAN be transmitted through the use of illicit drugs, as can many other blood-borne diseases and we don't deny that. However hepatitis C can be spread in many many other ways too, and because of the very nature of the disease and lack of proper medical sterilization in the past and yes even presently, EVERYONE SHOULD BE TESTED FOR HEPATITIS C!

Many of our nation's health agencies have become very adept at making claims they cannot support with solid data, and their mere speculations are becoming more and more accepted as truth. Does this sound like real science? Of course not. Unfortunately though, most of the media runs to the CDC (Centers For Disease Control) to confirm information about diseases and all too often they'll assume all is true even when it isn't.  Keep this in mind the next time you wonder why we hear so little honest information about hepatitis C in the media.

Anyway, without intending to point fingers here: it's no secret that prior to 1989, medical tools were not being routinely sterilized to kill viruses like hepatitis C, and since there was no test for the disease at the time, our blood supply was never screened for it either. Therefore, the use of infected tools and donated blood prior to the 1990's has most certainly infected countless individuals over the years, even while our government continues to bend over backwards attempting to convince the general public that ours is a "drug users disease".

Part of the problem is the fact that the hepatitis C virus does not die when exposed to air and can live outside of the body for an undetermined amount of time. It may (and often does) remain contagious to others until surgical tools that have contacted infected blood are properly heat-disinfected (by means of an auto-clave). Unfortunately, this was not routine practice within the medical community prior to the 1990's, nor is it routine today in certain establishments like nail salons which exist in non-medical environments. Detergents and bleach don't kill hepatitis C. Heat disinfection does. This may very well be one of the many reasons why so many people are diagnosed with the disease without a known source of infection. It's most definitely another of the many reasons why we believe EVERYONE SHOULD BE TESTED FOR HEPATITIS C.

These are reasons why it is so unfair to "paint every hepatitis C sufferer with the same brush!" and automatically assume that anyone infected is a former (or present) drug user. The truth is that any situation where infected blood can enter the bloodstream of another person is a potential mode of transmission for this disease. Since no test exists that can tell us when, where, or how a patient was infected, why dwell on these factors anyway? If we're sick, we need help. Shouldn't that be all that matters?

The CDC are the folks that only recently were denying that any cases of hep C transmission through medical procedures had been reported (see our "Hep C Info" page for links that dispute this).  Common sense tells us that much of what these people claim related to hepatitis C transmission is not supported by scientific fact, so PLEASE take anything they say with a grain of salt. With all due respect, these folks don't know nearly as much about this disease as they'd like us to believe and their history proves it. Medicine is not an exact science, but these folks have a tendency to stigmatize entire disease groups before they even know the real truth. Does anyone remember when HIV/AIDS was first discovered and the CDC called it GRIDS (meaning "gay-related immunodeficiency disease")? They led us to believe back then that it was a disease only suffered by those in the gay community and they were later proved wrong. 

Another of the many falsehoods about hepatitis C that we hear about is the notion that the virus is transmitted through "bodily fluids" and that it's sexually transmitted, but "only in rare cases". When you think about it, how much sense does that make? Again, hurtful claims not based on solid scientific data. More on this later in this dialogue.

BODILY FLUID TRANSMISSION: There are many websites out there that falsely indicate that hepatitis C can be transmitted through bodily fluids. Of course this implies saliva, sweat, mucus, and if true would make us very dangerous to be around. Not only is this extremely hurtful to those of us who suffer with hepatitis C, but the statement without explanation is downright untrue. Hepatitis C is transmitted through contact with infected blood. Period. Yes, if blood becomes mixed with any bodily fluid, then the risk of infection exists. However those who spread such false information are doing a great disservice to the entire hepatitis C community by not clarifying this. If mere bodily fluids were truly a risk factor for hepatitis C, can you imagine what all the shaking of hands that we've done over the years must have caused? And why is it that the majority of married couples have only one person infected? I've been married for over twenty years myself, and my sweet wife remains negative for the virus at her yearly testing. Wouldn't this be the ultimate way to determine whether the disease was truly transmitted through bodily fluids in the real world or not? Certainly if what the CDC says was true, the mere sweat from an infected person would transmit the disease to their healthy mate.  It is not happening in the real world though, and the medical establishment as a whole knows it.  Someone please. . . encourage these purveyors of falsehoods to get a clue because this kind of information is ridiculous!!! Also if this was true, wouldn't doctors and their personnel wear gloves to avoid contact with patient's skin and maybe even wear face masks to avoid the accidental spraying of saliva during conversations? I've heard of it happening to others, but fortunately most medical folks know better and I've never been disrespected in this way personally by any doctor nor do I expect to (some dentists use face shields to protect against being accidentally sprayed in the face, but it's done with all patients, not just those of us with hep C. Good physicians who are educated about the disease know that the only bodily fluid that may be infectious for hepatitis C is blood, and people just don't bleed without reason. Even though I'm infected with hepatitis C, my specialist doesn't put on gloves or any other type of protection before touching my skin during my routine examinations with him, nor do any of his assistants. They all know that the disease is not transmitted in this way. The same is true for every other doctor I see and I seriously doubt that any of them are infected with hepatitis C because of it.

SEXUAL TRANSMISSION: The CDC indicates on their website that hepatitis C is sexually transmitted but only in rare cases. How many other diseases do you know of that are "sometimes" or "rarely" sexually transmitted as claimed by the CDC? Have you ever heard of syphilis or gonorrhea being "rarely" transmitted? No. It's because both are truly STD's - otherwise known as sexually transmitted diseases. Hepatitis C is NOT, and there's a BIG difference! Under heterosexual circumstances where NO BLOOD is involved, HEPATITIS C HAS NEVER BEEN PROVEN TO BE SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED. PERIOD!  We all know that there are certain sex practices which can cause bleeding or somehow involve it, and in these cases, there's definitely a risk for transmission of hepatitis C. This is not the norm though, and it's just not appropriate to call the disease "sexually transmitted" when it isn't (except where there's blood). This kind of misleading information is causing many heterosexual couples to unnecessarily avoid intimacy with each other, and it's wrong for anyone to make such unsupported claims.

We believe that part of the reason for all of the misinformation  about false modes of transmission of hepatitis C is to draw attention AWAY from the true source of many of the infections in America. The fact is that the medical establishment has been an unintentional source of hepatitis C transmission for years through improper sterilization and just plain human carelessness. This isn't necessarily the fault of the medical folks because they didn't know it was necessary to be so meticulous with surgical tool sterilization prior to their beginning of study on the virus in 1989, and I don't mention this to cast any dispersions on anyone. I mention this merely to further show why EVERYONE NEEDS TO BE TESTED FOR HEPATITIS C!

The practice of heat disinfection via autoclave was not routine prior to 1989, so there's no way to ever know how many people were accidentally infected through seemingly innocent invasive surgical procedures prior to that time (even with something as seemingly innocent as dental work). Fortunately this was more of a problem years ago, although infection through surgical procedures or blood transfusion does continue to occur occasionally even today because people are human (again, as verified by the numerous links to articles on our "Hep C Info" page).

No agency has a license to deceive the public in an effort to protect their own and it's time for those who do to come clean with the public about hepatitis C (no pun intended). Let's make something perfectly clear here: the purpose for this dialogue is not to simply bash the CDC or any other health agency but rather to reveal the truth. My intention is to address the multitudes of misinformation being spread about hepatitis C that has so many patients and family members baffled, as well as to expose those who are responsible for it. The CDC aren't the only ones misleading people about this disease, but as it turns out, they are largely responsible for much of the stigma hepatitis C patients currently live with. This is SO wrong. It's not only a terrible disservice to us all, but just all the more reason why we need to use our own common sense when reading some of the information being put out there about this disease. Money is a big incentive to mislead people and it's important that we learn to separate the facts from all of the fiction! 

Enough talk about bad information and questionable health agencies. It's upsetting to even discuss  . . . . . .

Ours is normally a slowly progressive disease which allows us the luxury to research our treatment options in depth without the need to make hasty decisions we may later regret. We CAN control this disease and we have the option of using either conventional therapies or alternative methods of healing to do so. The more we're able to learn about hepatitis C on our own, the more we'll be able to work together with our doctors and better our chances of keeping it under control. It's not wise to blindly take anyone's word for anything related to disease. So, research for your life!!!

NEVER let anyone rush you or scare you into taking ANY treatment until you're absolutely sure it's right for you. These types of decisions should never be taken lightly, and remember to listen to your heart.  It's YOUR body, so choose your path to healing carefully and always take the road that's best for YOU! Then feel free to give us a call if you need help.

The National Hepatitis C Coalition, Inc. tries to take advantage of every opportunity to get out into the public to spread awareness about hepatitis C through health fairs, speaking engagements, and other community events. We find that the general public as a whole knows very little about the disease and most don't realize why they should be tested for it. The Journal of the American Medical Association indicates that in 2005, two-thirds of all Americans believed to be currently infected with hepatitis C have never been tested for it and do not know they are infected with the disease! This is largely because too many folks don't believe they've ever been at risk for infection so they don't get tested. Not to mention that hepatitis C testing is not  routine, so some people mistakenly assume they've already been checked for the disease. This is unfortunate, too often wrong, and the very reason why we use every opportunity to get out "into the trenches" ourselves and educate the public about the truth related to hepatitis C. If we don't, who will?

Anyway, the important thing to remember is that whether a patient decides to use the commonly prescribed chemotherapy treatments like the pegylated interferon combination therapy, or the use of alternative methods of healing like herbs and supplements, HEPATITIS C CAN BE CONTROLLED and probably won't become life-threatening for the majority of those who are diagnosed early and take care of themselves afterwards.

Please. . . GET TESTED. A simple blood test may just save your life!

 


 DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH AND NEVER FORGET:

YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!


PLEASE NOTE:

June 4, 2009 - To those I cannot keep in touch with as often as I might like, who inquire periodically as to my own personal well-being:

I greatly appreciate your concern and I'm thankful to be able to say that by the Grace of God I continue to remain alive on this earth with my own liver intact and I'm basically holding my own.
When used correctly:
"GOD'S MEDICINE"
WORKS! 

Kev


 

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This Page Was Last Updated June 22, 2012