LAS VEGAS -- Nearly 60,000 patients in southern Nevada were notified in 2008 that they may have been exposed to hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or HIV because of unsafe injection practices. It was one of the largest health scares in the country.
More than 100 people did end up with hepatitis C. Some of those patients spoke Wednesday at the Infection Control Conference in Las Vegas in hopes of preventing another outbreak from happening.
"I am not back to where I was when all this started, but I am ok, and I am functional," patient Henry Chanin said.
It's been four years since he was diagnosed with hepatitis C. He contracted the disease after a procedure at the Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center.
"I can't do all the things I used to be able to do, and I don't have as much energy. I get a little tired and I still have joint aches, but any day above ground is a good day."
Chanin is now an advocate on safe syringe use. He wasn't the only one sharing his story.
"I received a letter recommending I get tested for hep B, hep C, and HIV because there was found to be unsafe practices at the clinic," said Karen Morrow, who is infected with hepatitis C. She says the disease caused her to lose her job.
"I ended up going on medical leave from work. I had been at my job for 16 years and I was unable to return to work after 12 months and was terminated from my job."
She said she has come a long way since first learning of her diagnosis.
"My entire treatment I was alone. I had to depend on friends, to help me do grocery shopping, walk my dogs, help clean the house, take me to doctor appointments."
Chanin and Morrow are now part of HONOR, Hepatitis Outbreaks National Organization for Reform, a campaign to educate medical professionals on the dangers of unsafe syringe use.
Nevada does have legislation that requires every health care person, responsible for giving an injection, to follow CDC guidelines.
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