'I received a needle stick injury at work' - Vivienne's story
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‘I received a needle stick injury at work’ – Vivienne’s story
As a junior nurse more than 35 years ago I received a needle stick injury at work. This was reported verbally and I was advised to clean the site with alcohol, put a band-aid on, and, well – that was the end of that!
I was 18 years old, I had completed my training and travelled overseas to begin my life. I got a job and quickly became very unwell with hepatitis.
In those days it was not possible to determine the type of hepatitis that I had contracted – my diagnosis was ‘Non Hep A/Non Hep B type’ hepatitis.
I was given a sickness benefit and told I could go back to work when I felt well enough. About 6 months later I did return to work and went on with my life. I eventually married and had 3 children. There was no follow-up – no further care or support.
In 2002 I visited my doctor complaining of persistent tiredness. He decided to do a check for hepatitis C. I explained that I was not in a high-risk group and questioned why he would test me for this. Thank goodness he did…the results showed that I had chronic hepatitis C and it was a rare genotype.
I then endured 12 months of combination therapy (ribavirin and interferon) in an attempt to clear my body of this virus. The success rate for my genotype was not good, however, I was eventually advised that I was free of the virus, and have remained free since.
Thank goodness none of my children, my husband, nor previous partners had contracted this disease from me.
I now understand that hep C can be carried for long periods of time without there being any alarming signs of one being unwell. I wonder how many others even today are unaware of the state of their liver.
I am aware that hepatitis C treatments are now swift and easy to access. I’m not sure this is as widely known as it should be. I think there are many who do not understand the long term implications of their lifestyle on liver health – fatty diets, alcohol intake and drug use affect all aspects of physical and mental health.
What does World Hepatitis Day mean to me?
World Hepatitis Day is a fabulous opportunity to share information widely with people with all different lifestyles.
- The effects of their life choices and lifestyles on their body (in particular liver health!)
- The options for treatments and how this has changed over the years to become more user-friendly and less fearful… a treatment that is easily accessible and a positive outcome that is achievable!
- Small things (hygiene, food choices, fluid intake etc.) that can assist in creating better liver health
- Safer options/behaviours for IV drug users for decreased risk of contracting hepatitis
- Hepatitis types and the long term issues that can result from contracting hepatitis.
Hepatitis Queensland would like to thank Vivienne for sharing her story.