Using Your Voice For Change: Advocates Unite Hepatitis C Conference

by Yumhee Park Content Producer

Telling Your Story Could Eradicate A Disease

HealthCentral attended a hepatitis C conference organized by Caring Ambassadors, a non-profit that strives to empower people to be advocates of their own health. There, we saw the power of people telling their own stories in order to change policies concerning hepatitis C. Changes in policy could potentially end this disease that currently affects 3.2 million people in the United States.

In One Word: Advocates describe hepatitis C in one word and give us a glimpse of their own experience with the virus.

From Patient to Advocate

Kim Bossley was among the advocates that day, representing Colorado. After being featured in our Turning Points series and becoming increasingly more active in the hepatitis C community, she has recently decided to dedicate her life to the fight to end hepatitis C.

“We’ve been getting a lot of attention,” said Kim about her foundation, an organization she set up in honor of her mother who died of hepatitis C. “As a smaller organization, we’re able to effectively reach our communities at a local level.”

Kim didn't always have the strength to lead a state organization. When she was first diagnosed with hepatitis C, she remembers it being devastating. But, educating herself about the disease that took her mother’s life and was threatening hers, helped empower her to become a leading advocate.

The power of sharing her story by amplifying her voice was tangible that day, and she credited sharing her story on HealthCentral for giving her the confidence to do so in the political world.

Powerless: People faced with an invisible chronic condition can often feel they have no control. These advocates showed us otherwise.

A Law That Could Change The Course of Hep C

The Viral Hepatitis Testing Act was introduced on February 26th, 2015 and would increase funding up to $80 million “for a comprehensive national system to address viral hepatitis, enhancing and strengthening existing public health programs.” The act seeks to increase awareness, especially to those affected, to promote prevention. Many advocates that we spoke to expressed how the act would help eventually eradicate the disease.

Uniting for Hepatitis C: Caring Ambassador’s Hepatitis C Program Director, Jill Wolf tells us what their organization is all about and advocates explain their reason for uniting.

The Power of Your Voice

Sharing your personal story about living with a chronic condition, such as hepatitis C, can be therapeutic and empowering. It also has the power to move people, and to make the world see the importance of spreading awareness about the condition as well as educating the greater population. Personal stories about living with a chronic condition have the power to influence laws, policies, and the greater health landscape.

Why Care?: Advocates answer the question, why should we care about hepatitis C?

Breaking the Silence

Hepatitis C can affect anyone in a silent way, as these advocates know personally. They hoped that their stories stirred up discussions in the halls of Capitol Hill and put prevention and education of the disease at the forefront of Hill staffer’s minds.

"Know Better, Do Better": Education about the silent killer, hepatitis C, is the first step in eventually ridding our world of the deadly virus.

To track the status of the Viral Hepatitis Testing Act of 2015 and tell your representative your story, use this resource.

Yumhee Park
Meet Our Writer
Yumhee Park

Yumhee Park is a former content producer for HealthCentral and helped bring important stories of health advocates to life as a member of the Live Bold, Live Now multimedia team.