Hepatitis C & Drug use

The following sections have been designed to give you information that will help you make decisions about living as a drug user with hep C. You may decide to do nothing but at least that decision will be based on information not on “Oh, it doesn’t matter everyone I know has hep.”

We have every right to look after our health, no doctor, nurse or health professional’s attitude to our injecting drug use must  prevent us from getting the tests we need  to keep us informed, well, healthy, and alive.

The hep C virus is having an obvious and negative effect on people in the injecting drug using community. As a community we have been living with the virus for many decades and its effects on our lives and health are finally showing themselves.

For many years most of us were just grateful that we had escaped contracting the HIV virus. Hep C didn’t seem to compare in terms of severity. The injecting drug using community had been used to hepatitis among its members for years. Hepatitis B and Hepatitis non A- non B (as hep C was then known) were viruses many of us contracted when we had NO Needle Exchange.

Decades later the story has changed, hep C is now killing those who contracted the virus those many years ago. We are dying of cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer, and a variety of other illness whose severity is being heightened by having the hep C virus active in our bodies.

We now have needle and syringe exchanges and while they are not open every time we need them, there are people who have been injecting for over 20 years and have not contracted hep C. Contracting any hepatitis should no longer go hand in hand with injecting.


If you’d like to provide feedback or make a suggestion about a topic that you’d like added to Hep C-Ciety please contact Jude Byrne at AIVL on judeb@aivl.org.au or info@aivl.org.au .