Back in her hippie days, Elizabeth Rains was hitchhiking through Arizona in the rear of a truck when the drunk at the wheel crashed into a boulder. Rains needed close to 50 stitches in her head and may have had a blood transfusion.
Two years later, in 1971, she received blood in a Montreal hospital to treat hemorrhaging after the birth of her second child. A year after that, she moved to Vancouver and endured rough sex with a drug-addicted boyfriend.
Any of these events could have infected her with hepatitis C. But more than 40 years passed before Rains discovered she had the liver-scarring disease. Her quest to track down the cause of her illness and understand its nature gave rise to her new book, Demon in my Blood: My Fight with Hep C – and a Miracle Cure.
In Canada, about 75 per cent of people with hepatitis C are baby boomers, born between 1947 and 1966. Despite the disease’s association with intravenous drug use, the majority of infections can be attributed to contaminated medical equipment, such as reusable glass syringes, B.C. researchers reported last year in the Lancet medical journal. After analyzing genetic mutations in the virus over time, they concluded that the spread of hepatitis C reached its peak in the early 1950s, when boomers were children.
What keeps people from getting tested?
I had the same doctor for years and she didn’t test me. Many people just trust their doctor. When I moved to the Sunshine Coast, I got a new doctor and she does the blood test as a matter of routine. That’s how I found out. The United States recommends testing all boomers. Canada recommends testing based on risk factors. In my case, a lot of my experiences were long in the past, forgotten until I actually hunted through my memory. So now I say to everyone, “just get tested.”
You can order Demon in my Blood: My Fight with Hep C – and a Miracle Cure at https://greystonebooks.com/products/demon-in-my-blood