Monday, 1 December 2008

Euclides Fights Back! [Part 1]

For the last few months I’ve had a weekly date every Friday with a very cold and piercing individual whom, truth be told, I really hate but whose weekly kiss upon my body is hopefully helping me to rid myself of the horrible viruses that run in my bloodstream. Whenever the needle breaks through my skin, I feel a little prickly sting that then turns into a dull itchy pain when the cold contents of the small syringe enter my body. And then, almost straight away, I feel when the drugs hit my system. My head goes a bit light, I feel my shoulders drop while I sink on whatever chair I happen to be sitting, I stare for a few seconds at whatever is in front of me and then I start to feel my whole body being drained of all the energy I might have had up to that moment. A quite unfortunate situation really because since my weekly dates started, ‘energy’ is something I haven’t really had for any period of time. After the first injection, my body has felt like its batteries had been taken out and it hasn’t recovered since. So, when on Fridays my energy is drained again, the drugs are simply taking the little reserves I’ve built up over the week, taking me back to square one, needing to start building my weekly energy for the days ahead.

Regrettably, this lack of energy has slowly but surely taken hold not only of my body but my life too. What started as a tired weekend [I have my injections on Friday nights so they affect my work as little as possible… the bills still have to be paid!] has turned into a daily struggle to remain upbeat, positive and to find the energy to carry on with my life as normally as I can, finding the energy the drugs have denied me in other unlikely sources. A good book, a nice cup of coffee, little personal projects here and there. But more importantly, I’ve found that energy in the love, patience and support of my wonderful partner, my amazing family, my dearest of friends and my understanding workplace who have never allowed my constant cancellations, my lethargic chats, my tendency to just crash on the sofa staring at anything to diminish the amount of energy they inject into my life every day. However, it’s hard sometimes not to allow the tiredness to just take hold and it’s very easy to slip into a vicious circle of tiredness and lethargy and if I cannot find ways to fight it, once it takes hold I might be stuck with it for the next 6 months [or maybe even the next 18]. So, I’ve talked a lot before about trying to fight this but have never taken decisive action. Well, that changes from now and the fight back starts here!

Euclides is running from Hepatitis

I don’t give up easily and I’ve never been one to run away from my troubles. In fact, I’ve never been a runner in any sense of the word, occasionally mocking the courageous winter joggers in Hampstead Heath whilst I slowly strolled in search of a good cappuccino. But I’m making an exception this time and I’m running from hepatitis, or rather, I’m racing it! I’ve decided that the best way to fight the constant state of drug-induced slumber my life has become is to run the Edinburgh Marathon on behalf of a charity. ‘Erm… how’s that the best way Euclides?’ I hear you ask. Well, here’s how.

Firstly, it is a way for me to start wrestling control of my life and my health away from my treatment. This isn’t a reckless, spur-of-the-moment decision and I’ve discussed it with my doctor. I’m aware it is going to be very hard to train up to 5 times a week whilst the interferon is working its magic on my body but the fact that my training will help me get fitter to deal with the drugs and the even healthier lifestyle I’ll have to adopt will increase the chances of my treatment working should hopefully offset the nastiness of very cold 6 AM runs in the months to come.

Secondly, and more importantly, there are two worthy causes that will benefit from my efforts. The first one is the issue of raising awareness of hepatitis in our society. When 1 in 12 of us is suffering from hepatitis and as a society we don’t seem to offer the levels of awareness needed to prevent and raise the standard of treatment of such an ailment, it is important for individuals to make as much noise as possible to draw attention to the issue. That was initially the purpose of this blog but somehow along the way, I never actually came out of the Hep closet. I opened its doors wide open for anyone who would want to make the effort and take a peek but I truly remained perched on the floor of the closet. Not anymore. By taking this decision, I’m effectively coming out of the closet and because I need to raise as much money as possible, I will have to make all the noise I possibly can, hopefully raising awareness about these illnesses along the way.

The other cause is the charity that will benefit from the funds I raise during my training. As I mentioned above, the situation I’m going through at the moment would have been unimaginably worse without the love, support and encouragement of my close network of loved ones who have been there willing me on in one way or another. However, there are millions of people around the planet who are going through situations many times worse than mine and who lack the help they so badly need to continue. Amnesty International is one of the few charities whose unflinching commitment to provide a word of hope for those people while at the same trying to raise awareness of these issues worldwide has never wavered. Their work is very important, especially right now, and it’s essential that we try and help them whichever way we can. That’s why I’ve decided to do my bit.

Over the next few months I’ll talk a bit more about these things but this is a very long post as it is and I think I’ve bored you enough for one week. Incidentally, if you’ve just been sent here by a link in an email/forum/fundraising page, please stick around and have a look at the blog, there’s a lot more about me, hepatitis and other things. And if you’re one of the loyal readers of the blog, thanks for helping me get this far!

Last [but most certainly not least!] please go to my fundraising page here to be effectively mugged by me!

Thanks for reading and see you next week.

Monday, 17 November 2008

No more Mr Reluctant-Blogger!

Hello everyone…

I’ll put my hands up from the start and admit that it’s been a long time since my last post. I wish I could say that I’ve had too many things happening [and I have] but the sad truth is that I’ve just been struggling to commit words to paper lately. Lethargy has quite settled in over the last month and I feel like I’m living inside a little bubble that consists of a perfect balance of 'waking up-getting angry on the tube-working-getting angry on the tube-crashing on my sofa-going to sleep'.

Well, I’m tired of that and I’ve decided to put a stop to it. I’ve made some major decisions [one of which you’ll hear about a lot in the next few blogs!] and I’m taking control of my life again. The treatment has been setting the rules of the game for a while but I’m not playing ball anymore. So, once again, I promise to keep the blog updated in the weeks to come and thanks to those who keep coming back to the blog even though there’s been nothing new to read lately.

The monthly update on my health is not that different from the last few blogs: Tired, tired and tired. Getting out of bed every morning is a big battle and that’s a battle I only win when I get back into bed at night. Apart from that, I think I’ve been coping alright with everything that’s been happening and if that changes, you’ll all hear about it!

I’m working on the big news that will come probably in the next post and please come back for it because, rest assured, I’m going to need all the help and support that you can give me!

In the meantime, please check this out and show your support. Every little helps! Many thanks…

See you next week!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Heppy B-day!

I’ve never been in a fight. Ok, that’s not exactly true. I’ve been punched a couple of times but they don’t qualify as fights because I was either too confused or too restrained in order to respond. So, I feel I can say I’ve never been in a fight.

However, if I had ever been in a fight with 5 big, strong men who proceeded to beat the fear of life into my bones and knocked me out and then when waking up I realised how extensive the kicking was, I think I would’ve felt exactly how I felt when I woke up the day after my last post.

It seems that posting on this blog acts as a harbinger for future aches and my last post fulfilled its Delphic purpose wonderfully. I mentioned that I was still aching, being extremely tired and worrying about possibly being at the doors of a mood swing but then I candidly said that I hoped ‘my fears were unfounded’. Well, they weren’t unfounded, they were just misread.

The achiness of my body, the tiredness and the general feeling of ‘urgh’ have just turned the volume up and over the last few days [and even as I write this] I’ve been feeling like I have been hit by a big truck and this just seems to be a progression of the side effects I’ve been experiencing ever since I started my treatment. I’ve been quite lucky so far by avoiding the more horrible of the side effects but I’m starting to realise that the ones I’m actually experiencing are pretty tough as well. I don’t like complaining too much but, at the moment, I just want to say ‘ouch’!

Ok, I’ve already complained so let’s turn to positive things. Feeling crappy hasn’t stopped me from going to work, seeing family and the sort so I’m happy that the painful lethargy is not crippling the limited social life I’ve got at the moment.

My 26th birthday is on Friday [incidentally, it happens to be my partner's bday too so happy bday R... Love you] and, even though I’ve never been a ‘let’s-celebrate-my-birthday’ kind of person, I’m planning to make this one count because, after all, I’m a lucky man and I’m happy to add another year to my life.

So, here’s to a long and fruitful life and we’ll talk next week!


Sunday, 28 September 2008

The Needle Has Landed!

I’ve been back from holiday for a whole, long week now. For those interested, it was amazing and it was great to have the opportunity to relax and not worry about anything whilst away. It was helpful to just enjoy a little break from everything and I felt a lot better for it.

I had to take my drugs on holiday with me and I was a bit concerned that trying to take a needle into the plane would be a bit of an ordeal. I had letters from my doctors confirming that I was undergoing treatment and that the needle’s purpose wasn’t malevolent in any shape or form. However, I didn’t have to worry about that at all as the bag went through check in without any problems and the needle even made the trip back home [as it needs to be disposed of in an appropriate manner] without any inconveniences whatsoever. So that was very good!

Now, back in the real world, I had my monthly appointment on Friday and it was, as it’s becoming the rule, a mix of good news and not-so-good news. The good news: My blood levels are all normal, my liver function is fluctuating but it’s still within reasonable levels under the circumstances, my body is reacting well to treatment and I now have to see the doctor in three months time [with a few blood tests along the way]. The bad news: As was expected, the interferon has not helped at all with my Hep B and it is now a distinct reality that at the end of this treatment [regardless of whether the interferon actually helps me rid myself of the Hep C virus], I will have to start yet another treatment for the Hep B. This treatment will be ‘very expensive’ apparently and I’ll have to apply for it on ‘compassionate grounds’ to see if I can get it subsidised by the NHS. So, as you can see, a mixture of good news and not-so-good news.

Anyway, I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. In the meantime, I’m being very good with my current treatment and it seems to be working very well. The doctor is very happy with the progress and it all seems very positive overall.

On a personal level, I’m still as exhausted as I’ve been for the last three months and my muscles still ache all over but I’m still coping well with that. The people close to me have started to ask lately whether I’m ok [I’ve felt ok] so I’m hoping I’ve just been having a few days off and this is not the start of undesirable mood swings that I haven’t noticed. Hopefully that’s not it and I’ll be posting next week that my fears were unfounded.

Ok, I think I’ve taken enough of your time now. I’m signing off here but if you want to find out more, get in touch.


Friday, 5 September 2008

Results are in!

11 injections in! That’s where I am at the moment! That means I’m kicking off week 11 of my treatment! Woo hoo… Look at me!

Ok, enough of that. Hehe…

You might notice I’m a bit more cheerful than usual. Why is that I hear you asking? Well, I found out at the end of last week that blood tests taken 7 weeks into my treatment showed that the viral load for the Hep C had more than halved in my system. That means that my liver is having to work half as hard as it normally would have to. In other words, the treatment that’s sucking the energy out of my body is also, thankfully, helping me to rid myself of Hepatitis C! In health terms, I’m very, very happy.

Having said that, and being a natural-born cynic, I’m taking the results with a pinch of salt. The good news: The treatment is working, I’ve got 37 weeks to go and, hopefully, at the end of it, I’ll be free from Hep C. I don’t know about you but I think that’s pretty good news. The flip side of that is that I’ve got a long way to go and my body is not fighting your salt-of-the-earth cold. I’ve already believed once I got rid of this so, understandably I hope, I’m taking the news with happiness but a fair share of trepidation.

Just for the record, I’ve tried writing this post a few times over the last week but it’s proven to be quite tricky. My heart is being overrun by conflicting feelings and it’s quite confusing being very happy and very concerned at the same time. I’m off to sunny Greece with my beautiful partner for a week so hopefully by the time I get back, my feelings and thoughts on this will be clearer.

In the meantime, let’s go all out and join the part of me that’s ecstatic and enjoying the good news. Woo hoo…

As for the update on my health status, my white blood cells levels have fallen a bit but nothing to worry about, I’ve put on a bit of weight and I’m still very tired but coping. All in all, a good week!

You know the drill, drop us a line if you want to know a bit more but don’t expect a prompt response because I’m on holiday!

See you all in a bit…

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Story Of A Broken Toe

As many of you might have noticed already, it's been over four weeks since my last post. I promised when I started this blog that I would update it weekly and that, overall, I would take good care of it. However, I didn't take into account how exhausting my treatment would be when coupled with unforeseen complications [more on this in a bit] and the last few weeks have just proven to be a bit too much for me and I didn't feel like updating the blog at all. I even considered scrapping the whole thing a week ago when, after falling victim to an over-sensitised feeling of ennui, I felt that there really was no point in maintaining this blog since only a couple of people seemed to be really interested in it, noticing the unnatural lack of updating. Self-pity is not one of my favourite traits, hence that wasn't one of my proudest moments it must be said! Now, having remembered that this blog wasn't set up for the masses but for those people interested in knowing how this silly boy is doing, collecting useful info in a nice friendly way and for me to be able to chronicle this year of my life, I found my fingers itchy at work, desperate to write a new post for the blog.

So, I suppose I should start by explaining what gave rise to this period of over-the-top melancholy and like all good stories, it starts with a broken bone*! The day after my last post, on a rare mid-week night out, I broke a toe. It was a dramatic break too. Blood everywhere, toenails hanging by quite literally just a thread and the sort. The incident itself is a story that, for the purposes of this blog, is too long and not-wholly-relevant so it won't be included here, but you can read about it if you want to by clicking 'A Tale Of Toe Cities'.

So, after spending a good 3 hours in A & E ['Emergency Room' for those reading outside Britain] that night, feeling quite a lot of pain, stressing over blood spillages [see 'A Tale Of Toe Cities'] and getting home after 4am in the morning, I took stock of the situation and it wasn't good. I had to have a whole week of antibiotics [on top of my interferon treatment], limp all over the place [exerting even more effort on an already-exhausted body] and come to the realisation that, in spite of acting like nothing was happening in my life, I needed to be more careful with my health. It was a very tiring experience overall. I guess I'm only saying all this to try and trick you into liking me and overlook the fact that, through my own stupidity, I put my body through a lot of unnecessary strain.

I won't keep going on about broken toes anymore but instead I'll do what this blog is supposed to do and tell you how my Hep treatment is going. I'm still very tired but I've accepted that this might be the case for the next 40 weeks [Can you believe I've already gone through 8 weeks of treatment?] so I'm finding ways to just get used to it. I'm about to start going to the gym, playing football again and get on with my writing [i.e. Start writing!]. In short, just assimilate tiredness into my life and get on with it. Probably easier said than done but I guess we'll find out.

Apart from that and the bout of melancholy [already discussed at length! I promise I'll stop now] everything else is going fine. So, I'm pretty happy still and trying to stay as positive as possible.
Just to reiterate that I haven't forgotten about the blog, I will post a few interesting links I've come across over the last three weeks in the next few days.

And, finally, no matter what, I'll be posting next week without fail. So, welcome back and drop me a line if you want to!

*Disclaimer: I know of no great stories that start with broken bones!

Sunday, 20 July 2008

For whom the bell tolls...

I live in a beautiful place in London, not that far from a very old clocktower that gives our neighbourhood a nice village-y feel where people come to bring up kids and have a nice, easy time on Sunday mornings. I love it!

However, as an insomniac, the clocktower plays the part of a torturer whenever I can't get to sleep at night. And never has that been so true as this week. Before my treatment started, a couple of sleepless nights were annoying but I could cope with it. This week, after a few weeks of tiredness, a night of sleeplesness resulted in me missing a day of work and feeling like I just wanted to bury my head in the ground and sleep for weeks on end. It was very hard.
Basically, what I'm trying to say is that it was a dificult week. Being tired all the time is becoming increasingly wearing as time goes by. I've been trying to tell you that it's not a horrible side effect but, as side effects go, tiredness is difficult. I'm starting to hate it!

That on the left is the weekly dose of drugs that are making me feel like this every week. I've had a full-on weekend [Saturday: My parent's 28th Wedding Anniversary! [Well done guys!], Sunday: Colombia's Independence Day] so this week might be hard as well. But I'll complain about that one next Sunday.

See you then!

Monday, 14 July 2008

Introducing Mr Billy-No-Weekends!

Remember when I merrily mentioned during the first week of my treatment that I was just feeling a little bit tired? And then when I worriedly mentioned last week that the tiredness and achiness remained? Well, three weeks in, I'm physically and emotionally drained! As a very active 25-year-old, suddenly facing waking up in the mornings being just as tired as I was when I went to bed and knowing that I've got a long day in front of me, it's e-x-h-a-u-s-t-i-n-g! It's pretty much like taking the juice away from the duracell bunny! Mean!

Anyway, it just means that by Friday evenings [the night of the injection] I'm ready for a wild weekend of crashing on my sofa looking like your stereotypical dope-head without the aid of recreational drugs! A barrel of laughs as you can imagine... Thankfully, my partner is an angel and life is not as bad as it could be.

Having got that off my chest, everything else is alright. The tiredness is an annoying side effect but one that relaxing under the sun will sort out nicely. I'm still very positive and I'm feeling healthy. I'm eating more than normal [I've gained a couple of kilos] and even my sleeping patterns are starting to resemble a normal person's fare.

That's my weekly update and if you want to know a bit more, you know the deal, drop me a line!

See you

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Tiredness here to stay!

Second week into my treatment and I haven’t got much to report really which, depending where you’re standing, it’s either good news or bad news. As I mentioned last week , after my injection I just felt tired and my muscles a bit achy but that was it. Regrettably, the tiredness and achiness never went away and it was, needless to say, a long week. However, bearing in mind the long list of side effects I was presented with before I started my treatment, it’s going rather well!

This week I had to give myself the injection and it was a very shaky affair I must confess. I don’t know if it was fear or anticipation but my hands would not stop shaking. Thankfully I managed to do it and it was alright. The tiredness and achiness are still here and they seem to be here to stay but I’m feeling very positive and very happy that no big side effects have really kicked in so, all in all, another good week I’d say!

That’s it for this week really. If you want to find out a bit more, drop me a line as I’d be happy to hear from you.

Thanks for reading.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention something else. I have had two injections so far and I've got two big red spots in my stomach where the injections went in. It is a well-known side effect and nothing to worry about but 12 days after the first injection, the first of the lovely red spots is still going strong. They are the size of a golf ball and a bit tender to touch. Nothing really massive really but I thought I should mention it anyway.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Good news for Hep C sufferers


The EU has just approved a shorter version of the Interferon treatment for certain patients suffering from Hep C. If you want to find out more, here's a link to the story.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, 27 June 2008

And Off We Go...

Well, it's not exactly soldiers landing on the beaches of Northern France but D Day is certainly here... And D stands for Drugs!

I picked up my prescription from the hospital’s pharmacy, paid the £14.20 that it will cost me every month and then I sat opposite my very nice consultant, Ms X, who once again listed the side effects I may experience, gave me some goodies to take away [disinfection wipes, booklets and a ‘cool bag’ that will come in handy when I go on holiday as the Interferon injection needs to be kept in a refrigerator] and then we got on with the serious business.

I was shown how to inject 180 micrograms of Peginterferon alfa-2a into my stomach. Apart from a little sting, that was nice, quick and painless. I’ll have to repeat the procedure 48 times in the next year, every Friday.

On top of that, I will have to take 3 200 mg capsules of Rivarin every morning and 2 every night. ‘A bit excessive’ as my mum put it but apparently it’s just as important as the weekly injection. So, I’ll have to get into the habit quite quickly because I will not want to miss any of them.

So, what’s going on then? Well, I’m pleasantly surprised, I must admit. I’ve been trying to be as positive as possible throughout the last week and I think it’s paying off. Apart from a temporary fever, that went as soon as it came after the injection, all I’ve felt so far it’s a bit of tiredness but nothing out of the particular. So far, so good. I’m not going to get overexcited yet because as someone put it [Hi R] there’s 364 days and a few hours to go, so there’s plenty of time for the side effects to kick in but tonight, it’s going very smoothly!

That was a nice post to write! I was expecting to tell you that I was depressed, willing to fight to death with my girlfriend only if I could muster enough energy to get up from the sofa… But then, again, there’s still time! Ha!

I’ll update the blog next week on Friday and hopefully it’ll be an even nicer post.

I promise that this blog won't become just a diary of my experiences but I've just started a new job so time has been a luxury. But the useful links will start rolling in again quite soon. Just bear with me!

Drop us a line if you can’t wait a whole week to hear from me, otherwise see you next Friday!

Check out the Q&A page

Why Prometheus?

Friday, 20 June 2008

Every story has a beginning...

... and, as they say, so it begins!

I had a doctor’s appointment today. THE appointment that I’ve been waiting for ever since my diagnosis. After taking the decision of going through with my treatment a month back, I confirmed it today with my consultant and the ball has finally been set rolling. The doctors were worried the treatment might bring cancer back after so long [if this is you're first time here, welcome] but I was assured that after consulting an oncologist, there doesn’t seem to be any real danger of the Interferon treatment acting as a catalyst for the unwanted return of cancer. In other words, good news!

So, after giving away a lot of blood, being weighted [78 kilos if you must ask!] and a little bit of waiting, my girlfriend and I sat next to each other whilst my consultant explained to me what’s happening next.

From Friday 27.06.08, I will be taking tablets twice a day, seven days a week and having a subcutaneous injection once a week. I’ve been advised to have the injection on Friday evenings because of the side effects [more on that later] and I will be having weekly blood tests to make sure everything is in order with my blood.

So, without further ado, the next year of my life will involve any [or none, or all] of the following side effects:

Decrease in haemoglobin levels

Decrease in white cells levels


Flu-like symptoms

Loss of appetite

Weight loss


Irritable moods

Decrease in fertility [And increased dangers for any child I may conceive]

[There are many other symptoms online but I’m sticking to the ones that my consultant felt important enough to warn me about]

These were the ones mentioned by my consultant but she was quick to point out that having the treatment doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll experience any of these side effects so we’ll have to wait and see what interesting cocktail the next year has in store for me!

I have a week now to get ready to start and I will be updating this blog once a week to keep anyone interested updated on the ins and outs of my treatment.
In the meantime, if you have any questions, go here. If you want to find out more, check this out, or if you're tired of reading me, go here. And if I bummed you out, have a look at this:

So, the story kicks off here. I hope you join me.
See you next week

Monday, 19 May 2008

Let's make it a Happy World Hepatitis Day!

Hello all,

It's the first time that we have had a truly global World Hepatitis Day and it's your chance to get involved and help us make sure everyone talks about it today!

I hope you registered with the 'Am I number 12?' campaign and now you have an e-mail from the nice people at the World Hepatitis Alliance resting in your inbox![See my earlier post here]

How can you get involved?

Well, there are numerous ways you can get involved that should not affect you on a Monday when you must be eager to get back to work!

The most important thing you can do is help us raise awareness of the issues and the best way to do that is making sure you get more comfortable with what hepatitis is and how it affects millions of people around the world. Try to find out more and share with the world what you learn. I particularly recommend that you check this out. Maybe invite your friends to visit this blog today and hopefully it'll work as a little seed that you can plant and together we can make it grow.

And finally, don't forget that the question we are all asking ourselves today is: Am I number 12?. I know I am... If you're in doubt, get tested!

Friday, 9 May 2008

Q & A

UPDATED: MAY 16 2008
This will hopefully become the page where we dispel some of the myths surrounding hepatitides in general by asking some of the everyday questions we can have about hepatitis. I've come up with some questions to which I have thoroughly searched the answer and I will keep updating the page regularly. If there are any hepatitis-related questions you would like to have the answer for on this page, feel free to send them to me [] and I will do my best to find the answers for us.
[Disclaimer: All the information presented in this page represents the opinion and findings of the sources quoted in a specific answer. The author of this blog does not claim to possess any authoritative knowledge on the topic and the purpose of this page is to bring together information from different sources. Therefore, this information should only be used as a starting point for your personal research. Remember, if you feel you might have been at risk of contracting any form of hepatitis, get tested.]

How can I get tested? [Kindly submitted by DJ Barron]

What is hepatitis and how many types are there?

Hepatitis means liver inflamation. It is caused by a virus. Around half of all acute cases of hepatitis are due to a viral infection. Several kinds of hepatitis virus can infect the liver, but the most common are the hepatitis A and B viruses.

Hepatitis A is caught through the contamination of food and water with faeces (stools) through poor personal hygiene or sanitation.

Hepatitis B is spread through the exchange of blood and body fluids. It can be caught through unprotected sex, unsterilised needles, needlestick injury (accidental puncture of skin by a used needle), or contaminated blood products.

Hepatitis C is also spread through the exchange of blood or blood products. It is spread through sharing needles and needlestick accidents. It was also spread by blood transfusions before September 1992, when screening for hepatitis C was brought in.

There are four other recognised hepatitis viruses, named from C to G. Hepatitis A and E cause only acute infection, while hepatitis B and C cause chronic (ongoing) illness. Hepatitis D is only present in people infected with hepatitis B. The glandular fever virus can also be a cause of hepatitis.
[Source: NHS_Hepatitis#]

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How is it transmitted?

Hepatitis B transmission occurs when blood from an infected person enters the body of a person who is not infected. As such, transmission can most commonly occur whenever a non infected patient comes into contact with bodily fluids containing blood from an infected patient [as when having rough sex or when semen or vaginal fluid might contain blood], blood tranfussions [this risk has decreased greatly since 1992], sharing drug-taking paraphernalia and some health workers might be also at risk when attending patients who are infected.
People at risk of contracting Hep B:

• Men who have sex with men
• Heterosexual persons with multiple sex partners
• Injecting drug users who share or have shared needles
• Persons with a history of sexually transmitted infection (STI)
• Household contacts of those infected with HBV
• Newborns of HBV-infected mothers
• Sex partners of those infected with HBV
• Inmates of long-term correctional facilities and prisons
• Patients undergoing hemodialysis
• Healthcare workers and public safety workers with frequent blood contact
• Clients and staff at institutions for the developmentally disabled
• Recipients of certain blood products and transfusions
• Travelers to areas of high HBV endemicity
There is also a very useful and easy to use fact sheet from the Centre For Disease Control and Prevention, which can be foud here:

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne infection occurs when blood from an infected person enters the body of a person who is not infected.
The Hepatitis C Virus is spread through sharing needles or "works" when "shooting" drugs, through needlesticks or sharps exposures on the job, or from an infected mother to her baby during birth
[Source: CDC.Gov]
Although it can be sexually transmitted, the level risk of infection is accepted to be really low.
You can also find a very useful fact sheet here:

[back to top]

Is it true that I can get hepatitis just by kissing someone?

The answer is no. Saliva does carry very minimal amounts of the hepatitis virus when people are infected but not enough to pass it on. However, should one or both kissers have sores in their mouths or suffer from bleeding gums, the risk is relatively higher.

[back to top]

I've heard that Hepatitis C is not actually sexually transmitted, is this true?

This is, in my opinion, a very misleading statement that can be found in many scientific journals and that some people can take to mean that the risk of contracting the disease through sex is zero. [For example: 'Although HCV is not efficiently transmitted sexually, persons at risk for infection through injection-drug use might seek care in sexually transmitted disease (STD) treatment facilities, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) counseling and testing facilities, correctional facilities, drug treatment facilities, and other public health settings where STD and HIV prevention and control services are available.' [NGC_report]
Although it is scientifically proven that the chances of passing on the hepatitis c virus through heterosexual intercourse are minimal, it must be pointed out that some sexual activities increase the risk of contracting the disease. As a blood-borne virus, sexual activities where blood might be exchanged [for example, rough anal sex] can still pass on the virus.
So, although considered a low risk level, sexual intercourse might still be an important factor in the spreading of hepatitis C. People with several sexual partners or who practice rough sex should always use a condom to reduce the chances of exchanging blood or having bodily fluids like semen mixed with infected blood.
Please refer to this fact sheet for more info:

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How can I get tested? [Submitted by DJ Barron]

In the UK, the best way to get tested is by approaching your nearest Sexual Health Clinic where you can either book an appointment or attend one of their drop-in centres. There you can have a confidential chat with a specialist who will be able to answer your questions and get your blood tests underway if deemed necessary. To find your nearest Sexual Health Clinic, click here and select the 'Infection testing (GUM) clinics' option, followed by your post code [UK only].

Alternatively, you can approach your personal practitioner who will be able to advise you.

I haven't been able to find info about other regions of the world but I'm on it. However, if you believe you might have contracted hepatitis, visit your personal/family doctor who will be able to advise you

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Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Are you number 12?

This 19th of May is the World Hepatitis Day. As part of the drive to raise awareness, the World Hepatitis Alliance and over 200 patient groups around the world have launched the viral campaign: 'Am I number 12?' [you can register and support this worthy campaign here]

Why should everyone be asking this question? Well, it is a not-too-well known fact that more than 500 million people around the world are living with either Hep B or Hep C. 500 million people! That's 10 times the number of people infected with HIV/AIDS. And it means that 1 out of 12 people in the planet is Hep positive. This is why we should be asking whether we could be number 12.

This is why I invite you to use May 19 as a day to learn a bit more about hepatitis and to help us raise awareness of the issue. 1.5 million people die every year because hepatitides. Help us make that number as relevant as possible in the world's healthcare agenda.

Are you number 12?

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Before we start, a little bit more about me...

Hello there.

As you've already seen from the blog in general, my name is Euclides Montes and I'm 25. I live in North London with my partner and I'm a sociologist. I was born in Bogotá, Colombia where I lived until the age of 16. In 1999, I moved to England and I've lived in London ever since. [That's me on the right!]

When I was 12, I got a scholarship to go to one of the best public schools in Colombia where the curriculum included agricultural studies. As part of that module, I had to start using tools and very soon into my first year at the school my right arm started to get very swollen and the pain was unbearable. After seeing several doctors [and being mis-diagnosed as suffering from acute tendonitis] I was eventually diagnosed with the late stages of a very aggressive bone cancer that was already spreading to other parts of my body.

I immediately started treatment that included chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a few operations. Half way through this very strenuous treatment, my body defenses were down entirely and a simple cold almost killed me. I was hospitalised and, sparing you all the gruesome details, three nights into my stay at hospital I almost died and I had to have two emergency blood tranfusions during the night. The tranfusions helped me to see it through the night and eventually I recovered and was allowed to go home.

In the course of the health screenings I had to undergo whilst having my treatment, it came to the attention of the doctors that I had been given Hep B and Hep C when I had received those emergency blood tranfusions.

So, at the age of 12 1/2, I also started to receive treatment for both cases of hepatitis.

By the age of 14, I had finished the inteferon course for my hepatitis and I had survived the tumour that had threatened my life. I stopped going to hospital and as far as I was aware, I was 100% healthy.

On the first week of January this year, and as part of a routine health check, I had my blood screened and I was very shocked when I heard that I still had Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. It was a very hard blow for me personally to find out that I had been carrying these diseases for the last 12 years and that I could go through life unaware of that fact.

For the best part of a month, I could not even tell my family the news. The pain was unbearable. I was very lucky to have an amazing partner that helped me to come to terms with being Hep B and Hep C positive and I don't doubt that life would have been a lot harder without her love and support [thanks beautiful].

And here we are now. I've had a liver biopsy, my blood has been screened and tested and the doctors have suggested that I undergo a treatment that would include 1 year of daily tablets and weekly injections. I have decided that I'm going to take the treatment [in spite of the less-than-50% chances of a full recovery and the undesirable side effects of the treatment - I will post later on on this topic] and in my next appointment I will hopefully start my treatment.

So, this is where this project comes from. Its purposes are manifold really. I want to make sure people learn more about these diseases and raise awareness of this important issue. I want Hep positive patients to have a place where they can find the information they need to make informed decisions about treatment, lifestyle and other concerns that they may have. I want to use this as forum to help me put into words the challenges and worries that lie in the year ahead for me in the hope that my experience will help others in some way.

Hope you join me!

Why Prometheus?

Prometheus, as Greek mythology would have it, was the valiant titan who stole fire from the gods and brought it back to humankind, pretty much kickstarting civilization. Zeus, however, did not like that even a little bit and gave him one of those punishments of which the Greek gods were so fond. He was tied to a rock where a vulture would visit him everyday and feast upon his regenerating liver, for all eternity.

I felt that Prometheus punishment was akin to the experience that many Hepatitits positive sufferers in the world go through. His pain and frustration being shared by many of the humans he strived to help in his quest against the gods.

So, like the Greek titan, this humble blog will try to recover something that seems to be missing from our general human knowledge: Awareness of hepatitides in our society.

I'll try to put together information about these illnesses from diverse sources [medical, scientific, advisory etc] combined with the many campaigns that, like us, are trying to make sure all of us know more about hepatitides. On top of that, as a Hep B and Hep C sufferer myself, I will bring into the blog all personal experience I can about what it means to live with these two illnesses on a day-to-day basis. Hopefully, raising awareness will help us to understand the issue much better, dispel many of the myths that surround it and help others [and myself!] to lead full lives without the shadow of that general ignorance that can make many [me included for a while] doubt whether sharing a diagnosis with the world is a good idea.

So, like Prometheus, let's go in search of that knowledge together. Whether you're an organisation providing help, a medical association, a Hep. positive patient or an individual who wants to get involved, let me hear from you and let's create a nice, useful portal for everyone.

Finally, because deep down inside I'm a sucker for happy endings, don't forget that Prometheus was finally freed and his vicious vulture slayed! So the name and reference is not ominous but it rather is a little ray of hope from the very beginning.

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