Women With Hepatitis C Decry Constant Dismissal By Doctors

Several women who were infected with hepatitis C have accused medical doctors of dismissing their health problems as being related to motherhood, the menopause or teenage mood swings.

According to Guardian report, three women revealed they struggled to get doctors to take them seriously or test them for hepatitis C, and had to suffer unexplained health problems for decades while the virus, known as the “silent killer”, was causing damage to their bodies.

One of the women who spoke to Guardian, Janice Whitehorn, 45, said she was infected with hepatitis C as a baby after her mother received a transfusion with contaminated blood in 1973.

“During my childhood and as I hit my teenage years, I felt really tired, which I now know is chronic fatigue – you feel like you’re dead, looking out of your body and you can’t move.

“I went to doctors and said: ‘I’ve got leg pains,’ and they dismissed me as a teenager,” she said.

Whitehorn also revealed that when her mother learned she had hepatitis C in 1991, she requested for her to be tested, yet the request was batted away with instructions to lose weight.

She added that over the years during her visits to the local clinic complaints of pain, hair loss and facial swelling were always dismissed by male doctors.

Several years later, Whitehorn was trying to start a family in her 30s when a test for hepatitis C – was finally carried out, revealing that she had been carrying it for more than three decades.

Even then, she found the attitudes of clinicians judgmental because “they assume that everyone with hep C is a drug user or alcoholic”.

She was initially told she would not receive treatment until she had liver cancer, as though it was her fault she was unwell.

After pressuring for treatment, she asked if it could affect her fertility, and was told it would not. But the Pegasys interferon treatment sent her into early menopause – something she has since learned through Cancer Research is a known side-effect.

Recent Articles

Related Articles