Mike is 41-years-old and formerly a Television Mass Control Operator. Due to the severe side effects of his hepatitis C treatment, Mike lost his job one month ago. He lives by himself in Florida and has family in Virginia.
What was your first sign that something was wrong? What symptoms did you experience?
As I look back, I realize that I had been having symptoms for years that I never identified. Early symptoms included fatigue, "brain fog", aches and pains—I probably thought I had a touch of the flu. My first clue that there was a problem came in 1997, when I donated plasma. The count came back abnormal, and they recommended that I have my blood checked.
What was the diagnosis experience like?
After donating plasma, I did see my primary doctor, who referred me to a hepatologist. The hepatologist diagnosed me with Hepatitis C, genotype 3A. I was told that this genotype is more commonly found in Europe and Asia than the U.S. In the U.S., people are more likely to get genotype 1A. Supposedly, genotype 3A should have been easier to treat, but that has not been my experience. In addition, they classified my liver damage as being Stage 3 (the stage prior to cirrhosis.)
At the time I was diagnosed, there were few treatments available other than interferon. So my hepatologist decided to wait one year before beginning any treatment. He wanted to see how my condition progressed, and also thought that other treatments might become available during that time.
What was your initial and then longer-term