“I feel very proud that I am hepatitis C free now”

By Jawaid Ali, Pakistan

“My name is Jawaid Ali and I work as a security guard at one of the integrated medical centres (IMS) of Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), Karachi, Pakistan. One hot and humid day, I noticed they were screening people for hepatitis C with finger prick rapid tests. One of the members of the hepatitis C project research team approached me and asked me to undergo screening test for hepatitis C. At first, I hesitated and was not willing to undergo this screening test. But when the team member pointed out that my eyes were relatively yellowish and that I had been feeling generally quite weak over the past few weeks, gradually a feeling in my gut developed. I thought I should at least take the test regardless of the outcome.

To my surprise, when I underwent the screening test for hepatitis C, it was positive. I was advised by the research team member and the general physician at Malir IMS to undergo the full diagnostic test for hepatitis C. Due to scarcity of resources and my meagre salary, I was not able to afford the diagnosis and treatment packages for hepatitis C at Malir IMS, AKUH so they directed towards the public sector tertiary care hospital. At the public hospital, I underwent PCR qualitative test and it turned out to be positive. Subsequently, I underwent some blood investigations and later, I was advised to start my treatment for hepatitis C from the same hospital. I took the treatment for three months. I was fortunate that during these months I did not suffer from any side effects and I was able to comply with the full treatment regimen. At the end of treatment, I underwent another PCR qualitative test from the same hospital and happily, the result was negative.

When I first received my hepatitis C diagnosis, my friends and family members were supportive, helping both emotionally and financially. As my hepatitis C diagnosis came as such a shock to me, I insisted that my friends and family members also went and got a free screening test from Malir IMS. Nearly all of them got screened and thankfully all were negative.

I feel very proud that I am hepatitis C free now and am happy that my life has gone back to normal. I have been able to go back to work at Malir IMS, AKUH and am feeling much more energetic and motivated.”