Who is Danny?
Danny lives with his partner and two young foster children in Sydney, Australia. He describes his ethnic background as ‘Aboriginal’: like both his parents, Danny was born in Australia. His primary source of income is a social security benefit for primary carers of young children.* While Danny initially filled his treatment prescription when he was diagnosed with hepatitis C, he learnt that he had spontaneously cleared the virus before starting the treatment.
During a period when Danny was partying and consuming drugs regularly, he started to feel unwell and received a hepatitis C diagnosis. He sought treatment immediately but decided to have another test before starting it. This second test showed that he had cleared the hepatitis C without treatment. While he is still ‘really confused about the situation’, he says he felt ‘amazing’ on receiving the news. Since then he has had regular hepatitis C tests, ‘just to make sure’ he doesn’t get it again.
Quite soon after having tests that showed he didn’t have any blood-borne viruses, he started to feel unwell and decided to visit the doctor again. The doctor first questioned why he neeed another test, given that he was ‘just here a week ago’, so Danny explained that he had recently reused a syringe and was worried he had acquired a blood-borne virus.
As Danny told the doctor, ‘You’re going to hate me when I tell you this, but I injected with the same syringe more than two times’. As he recalls, the doctor ‘kind of growled at [him] and said it was wrong, and all that sort of stuff’. Danny remembers that he ‘blamed [himself] completely’ for the potential diagnosis.
Danny recalls feeling ‘a bit upset’ after finding out he had acquired hepatitis C, but says he ‘didn’t react badly’ because he knew it could be cured. He describes his thinking at the time: ‘It […] doesn’t matter. I can deal with this. The medication will clear it, it’ll be all right’. While he was confident that treatment would resolve the problem, he also remembers that he ‘didn’t want to touch anybody’ while he had hepatitis C.
He also recalls that during this time he spoke to his cousin about the diagnosis. He remembers her being very upset with him at first and saying the diagnosis was because he had been ‘doing the wrong thing’, but she also comforted him by saying, ‘It’s going to be all right […] The medication will help you [… and] you’ll be healthy again’.
While Danny filled his treatment prescription immediately after his diagnosis, he didn’t start taking the medication straight away. The doctor had explained to him that it’s possible for the body to clear hepatitis C without treatment, so Danny decided to wait a little while and go back for a further test. The results of this test suggested that he had cleared the hepatitis C without treatment. As he explains, he is still ‘really confused about the situation’, but says he felt ‘amazing’ on received this news and asked himself, ‘How does this happen?’
After this experience, Danny now gets tested about monthly ‘just to make sure’ he has not acquired hepatitis C again.
*Services Australia Parenting Payment.
Danny (M, 32, no treatment experience, experience with spontaneous clearance) describes having a ‘feeling inside’ that he should have a hepatitis C test after injecting drugs in prison.
I just had this feeling inside, and so I went to my clinic. I said, you know, ‘This is what’s happened, and I think that I may have hepatitis C. Can you check for me?’ And my doctor said, ‘Yes, I’ll check for you’. [He] called me back a couple of days later and said I needed to go in and speak to him, and then he told me that, yes, I was hep C positive […] I don’t know how I knew, but I just could feel that my body wasn’t right. And, yeah, he told me that I was positive for hepatitis [C].
Danny (M, 32, no treatment experience, experience with spontaneous clearance) recalls isolating at home after receiving his diagnosis.
I put myself in a bubble where I stayed home and didn’t communicate with anybody from the outside world. When I went back for my second test, when I thought I was hep C positive, I went […] and got my heroin or whatever, and I came home and I used by myself. At that stage, I bought a whole bunch of syringes so that I would not have that problem [of running out of equipment] again. But like, yeah, I just, I knew that I was going to be sick from it.
While Danny (M, 32, no treatment experience, experience with spontaneous clearance) hasn’t had treatment, he explains that he considered it partly because he felt ‘embarrassed’ about having hepatitis C and HIV.
I just felt like, ‘I need to get rid of this before anybody knows that I am not a clean user all the time’. You know, I like … I just, I felt embarrassed for having it, and so I wanted to get rid of it as soon as possible […] I felt very low and very, you know, not good. I just wanted to get rid of it straightaway, because I was very sexually active, right up until this happened, and I wanted to get back to that.