A HEPATITIS C diagnosis was pretty much a death sentence less than 30 years ago.
A couple of Tamworth faces battled the virus for the best part of three decades and now they’ve beaten the disease, a feat that hardly seemed possible just years ago.
Sofosbuvir-based treatments going on the PBS in March proved to be a huge turning point in the disease’s history, with cure rates over 90 per cent.
While the disease has taken a major hit, the Tamworth pair say there is still a stigma tied to the disease.
Timbumburi principal Jane Kibble was diagnosed with Hep C around 28 years ago.
She said the diagnosis had a lot starker consequences, all those years ago.
“You were either going to die with it, or it would kill you,” she said.
Ms Kibble was one the first people in the country to trial the drug, starting in March last year, when she was “sicker than most”.
She said the news she was virus-free just months later gave her a future.
"You have a future when you thought you weren’t going to, when someone can say to you, 'you know what, we can cross liver failure off the list of things that are going to kill you'," she said.
"Now it's just the normal risk of getting hit by a bus or eaten by a shark.”
Ms Kibble said the virus still has a stigma.
“Cancer has its ribbon days and cricket matches, but hepatitis is still waiting for its knight in shining armour,” Ms Kibble said.
Tamworth man, Steve Gribbin, who recently overcame a long battle with the virus, after a course of the drug and a liver transplant, also agreed there was still a stigma.
“So many people look at it and think it’s tied up with drug addiction,” Mr Gribbin said.
“Even if that is the case, they’re still a person and they still deserve a healthy life.”
Mr Gribbin said he’s been enjoying the small things in life, since receiving his transplant in January this year.
“Before, I’d only go out to go the hospital, the doctor or the chemist,” he said.
“Now I can go out a have a coffee occasionally, and I’m looking forward to being able to mow my lawn again.”
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