Darren Ellwood
Darren Ellwood
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Diagnosed with Hep C in 1991

Don’t fall asleep in the back of your car at a hotel.

In 1985, I was tired and bored waiting for friends to come out so we could go home, so I slept in my car. I woke up to find we had hit two trees, two poles and a brick bus shelter. My best friend was dead; when I saw his face, I knew he was gone. I could not get to him as I was trapped in the back seat and had lost a lot of blood.

I received transfusions to save my life. The blood I received was contaminated with hepatitis C. I was 17 years old when the accident occurred. Eventually I learned that I had genotype 3a hep C. I didn’t treat straight away as I was angry with the world. I left my then partner and son, as I was so scared they would get this virus. I had never heard of hep C, and at the time, AIDS was often in the news. At the time, there was still a lot of fear and apprehension about AIDS, so I was scared even more!

I was angry for many years. I joined a bike club, worked in clubs and bars, studied fighting, and stayed angry. In those days, anyone that “came out” and talked about hep C was labeled as a junkie. I hated this. I hated how people would refuse to use cups, knives, forks after I did. However, instead of hiding the fact that I had it, I decided to tell the world about hep C. My research led to finding others that had hep C, some of whom had been treated. Most of my information about hep C came from the United States.

Eventually I sought treatment for hep C. I cleared the virus and decided to change my life. This included humanitarian efforts, and I pondered over what one man could do to make a difference. I started riding my bike on long trips, over 100 miles, to nearby towns, talking to whoever would listen. People asked me why I would do this, and I answered, “Well, to let my kids know that dad cared about everyone with hep C.” I want my kids to see that dad tried something no one would dare to do. I covered over 4,000 miles and talked many into being tested for the silent killer.

I now work with my state government on hep C matters, which has made my dream come true! I’ve been on TV, radio, many newspapers and magazines. I meet some wonderful people that changed my life and now I fight for others for release of new drugs, and to let them know they are not alone.