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I need your advice, Dr. D!! Please answer.
Nov 24, 2003

Dear Dr. Dieterich,

I think I need a dose of reality where all this hepatitis stuff is concerned. I'm having a really rough time. I have developed a rather humungous (yes, the technical term, I know) fear of hepatitis C.

I have always lead a very safe lifestyle and by all accounts probably have no real reason to worry, yet I am constantly overcome with fear. The idea that there are all these people out there who don't know HOW they get Hep C scares me and leads me to be afraid of everyday situations and the contact I have with people who aren't as careful as I am.

I am afraid to go to pharmacies that dispense methadone...fearing to touch anything that the drug addicts may have touched. I understand that they often become itchy during withdrawls and scratch open scabs until they're bleeding.

I work with several First Nations men who either do or have done drugs (one was even an IV drug user for a short time). I'm constantly afraid at work that I may come into contact with something they've touched with a cut. I wash my hands OFTEN, but wonder if this doesn't make transmission easier because my skin gets so irritated and cracked.

This week at the building I work in, we're having a huge craft market and there will be prison art and woodwork on sale. The prisoners will be here helping set up and sometimes manning the booth. According to friends of mine who work at the prison 1 in 3 of them have Hep C. What if they cut themselves??? How can I possibly be careful enough?

I know I may sound nuts, but this is completely affecting my life. I need some advice...is this all crazy? Do people EVER get Hepatitis in this way?

I respect your opinion and appreciate any advice you can give me.

Response from Dr. Dieterich

In a word NO! You need to stop worrying about this. It sounds like you have obsessive compulsive disorder and you should see a mental health professional. No one catches HCV from casual contact. Even needlesticks in health care workers only transmit HCV one in 2000 times. Get some help! HCV is not your problem! Good luck! DTD



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