Please remember as you read Annie’s story that discrimination against people living with hep C is illegal. If you feel you have been discriminated against, you can call the Hepatitis Infoline 1800 803 990 for information and support.
I had the most discriminatory experience of my life related to my hep C as a result of treatment by a doctor.
In 2005 a friend and I decided to learn to scuba dive. We were required to give our dive course provider a medical certificate from a doctor (the name of which was suggested to us by the course provider) and I revealed my hep C status as requested.
The doctor said he was unable to supply clearance for the course because if something went wrong, I would have to share breathing apparatus with my “buddy” or perhaps be given mouth-to mouth-resuscitation – exposing that person to hep C.
I expressed my incredulity to the doctor that his information was so incorrect. I pointed out that I had never given anyone hep C despite having had a few kissing partners! He refused to approve a certificate and suggested all I could do was get a second opinion.
A few days later a second doctor, horrified about his colleague’s treatment of me, said there were no problems with me scuba diving and gave me a medical certificate. In the meantime, my friend, desperate to do the course and unable to get a refund, was conned by the course provider into buying an expensive breathing apparatus which was given to me as though it was part of the provider’s equipment.
I was furious when I found out.
I felt really unsupported by my friend for not making a stand with me and telling the provider that they were acting in a discriminatory way. I was furious, too, at the provider for taking her for a ride financially and for refusing to refund our fees. They took advantage of the situation. The doctor is still practicing.
I can’t say I’m any better at advocating for myself – but thankfully I haven’t needed to.
What happened to Annie is unacceptable and discriminatory.
If you have experienced something like Annie and want to know what you can do about it, contact HALC on 9206 2060 or call the Hepatitis Infoline on 1800 803 990.
This page was last updated 14 April 2015.