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HL20: Douglas Dieterich, MD—Winning a Grudge Match With Hepatitis C

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, December 13, 2012

"So I went into GI and then GI-liver to try to do something about my own disease," he says. "At the time, there still wasn't anything that could be done."

Unlike many people who have the disease and do not know it, Dieterich knew immediately that he was infected, and also unlike many victims, he began experiencing debilitating symptoms nearly immediately.

Though many people have no symptoms "until it's almost too late," (which is one reason he advocates that everyone be tested for the disease), he became severely ill only about six weeks following the initial needlestick, which he says happens in only about 10% of cases. It's a good thing Dieterich had such determination about fighting this particular disease, because at the very beginning, when it would have been so easy to give up, he persevered, ultimately struggling with the disease for 20 years until he was cured, thanks in no small part to his own research.

"There were definitely low points when I was training and kept getting sick and relapsing, but when you work 100 hours a week  I guess it doesn't help," he says. "That was frustrating. At that point they weren't even doing liver transplants."

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