My best guess is that I got it from sharing needles in a dope house. It might've been in East Los Angeles. It could've been in Echo Park or North Hollywood. It might've been in an Orange County barrio. Maybe in a Tijuana slum. In other words, it could have been anywhere, because I shot dope in all those places and several in between over 38 years.
And for a long time, I didn't even know I had it. I only discovered it when my doctor asked me during a medical examination over 25 years ago if I knew that I had hepatitis. At that time they didn't even call it hepatitis C. It was called non-A, non-B hepatitis.
The doctor went on to tell me that there was no cure for it. And he sent me for a biopsy to see what condition my liver was in. Fortunately, doctors found that I had minimal scarring and minimal inflammation, something they called stage one. And my liver remained that way over the years of my recovery.
Then there was a buzz of excitement in 2013 when a new pill called Harvoni came on the market that had about a 90% success rate. But at $80,000 for a course of treatment, it was outrageously expensive. Fortunately, my supplemental insurance covered most of the cost, leaving me with about a $6000 co-pay.
So I was able to take an eight-week course of treatment at the first of this year. There were few side effects. After the treatment was done, my doctor ordered three more follow-up blood tests over an eight-month period. Each one came back showing no signs of the virus. And two weeks ago I got the results of my final test. It also was clear.
The medical staff told me I was cured and that I didn't need to see them anymore. What a wonderful feeling.
I encourage all of you out there who were IV drug users to get tested. Even if you used just once. Today there are options that can change your life.