When Erica Thomson entered into an Abbotsford treatment centre for intravenous drug use in 2010, she went through the necessary blood tests for blood-borne pathogens.
When the test revealed she had hepatitis C, Thomson, who had been aware of the risk but didn’t have much information about the disease, feared for whether her daughter could contract the illness.
“I thought somehow I had given it to her. I didn’t have a lot of information, and neither did my (general practitioner).”
Hepatitis C is a chronic liver disease that impacts about 73,000 people. It can be contracted through blood transfusions, unsterilized tattoo equipment or by sharing tainted needles. It can lead to severe liver damage.
Thomson was relieved her daughter didn’t have the illness. But despite the idea that only high-risk individuals can contract hepatitis C, Thomson said she feels it is important for anyone getting blood work done to ask for the two-part test. She said she has met people who have no idea how they’ve contracted the illness and don’t fall into risk categories.
After experiencing exhaustion and other symptoms through her illness, Thomson has since been cured through treatment.
Thomson is now an HIV/hepatitis C outreach worker in Abbotsford, helping to educate and provide harm reduction to those in need. She is also a member of the Pacific Hepatitis C Network board, where she hopes to raise awareness to the general public and reduce the stigma.
The network is a non-profit that woulds to support people with hepatitis C by encouraging prevention, testing, treatment and care. The organization is raising awareness that Monday, July 28 is World Hepatitis Day. For more visit www.pacifichepc.org.