It’s never easy being sick. Sometimes it can be even harder than it needs to be, particularly when people are dealing with additional challenges such as stigma and discrimination that come with a diagnosis of their illness. This is very much the case for blood borne viruses (BBVs), including viral hepatitis. While the community has progressed a great deal in reducing the level of discrimination attached to people who are affected by HIV since the emergence of the virus in the 1980s, there is still much work to be done in supporting people who are impacted by blood borne viruses.
At the age of 29 in 1979, my “Plan A” was to grow old gracefully and maintain a very high level of fitness. When a car overtook a semi-trailer and hit me head-on while I was riding my motorcycle, my plan was left in disarray.
Over the next 18 months, I had many major life-saving operations, some needing multiple blood transfusions. It was only in 1988 that the Red Cross called and asked me to come in. I had blood tests, received counselling and was later told that I had hepatitis C.
Three health district leaders have been named among the inaugural Top 50 Public Sector Women in NSW. The South Eastern Sydney Local Health District clinicians, Associate Professor Amany Zekry, Theresa Jacques and Jodi Lynch are among the medical professionals honoured for their roles.
Professor Zekry is the medicine clinical stream director. As head of gastroenterology and hepatology, she built a clinical team delivering a multi-disciplinary, patient-centred approach towards diseases. She chaired the St George Hospital Clinical Council from 2010-2013 and is currently District Clinical Stream Director for Medicine, leading efforts to build a collaborative approach to equitable service delivery. From 2013-2017, she was the President of the Australian Liver Association and formed a large collaborative group that facilitated advocacy for PBS listing of treatment for hepatitis C. Under her leadership, the first report on the burden of chronic liver disease in Australia was commissioned and published, leading to positive engagement with policy makers.