Branislav, construction technician from Serbia
Hepatitis action plan strategic direction 5: innovation for acceleration – the future
I’m lucky – just last year, on 22 November 2015 I received a liver transplant and I am recovering well. I had a supportive team of doctors, nurses and other staff, which had a positive impact on me during the healing process and the medical care was beyond my expectations here in Serbia.
But this is not the case for all people. Since information on viral hepatitis – including surveillance and measurement of the burden – is not strong, we do not have enough policies in place to support those who need the highly expensive medication, transplants and care. For example, antiviral care medication is not available in my country and in many European countries the cost is very high – around €50 000. This was a barrier for me, and so many others, but thankfully I was able to purchase a generic cure.
I was diagnosed just by chance when I applied for a new job and had to go through routine medical checks; I had low levels of thrombocytes in my blood and they wanted to check why this was. It was about a year of testing and appointments until I was finally diagnosed with chronic cirrhosis of the liver caused by hepatitis C virus. My only hope was a liver transplant, so I was put on the liver transplantation list and had to just wait. So I waited while receiving medication to conserve the state of my liver. It was so strange being told this news, while the whole time I was feeling just fine and not sick at all – so hearing this news was a total confusing shock for me.
So many people miss out on the life-saving treatment and transplant I was able to receive. They are not aware how serious the disease is, and will never be tested until it is too late. Testing should be available and encouraged for all, and the price of medication reduced. I want to see a future where all people with hepatitis have access to the treatment and medical care they need.