A Canadian woman recently cured of hepatitis C virus (HCV) is suing her local health clinic for allegedly refusing to give her an allergy test because of her medical history, the Ottawa Citizen reports. Ironically, the discriminatory mishap occurred on World Hepatitis Day, marked every year on July 28 to help raise awareness and reduce stigma around the viral liver disease.
Monica Higgins, 39, says she left the Appletree clinic in her hometown of Ottawa “in tears” after both a nurse and a doctor there allegedly turned her away from a routine allergy test after inquiring about her past history with blood-borne infections. Higgins, who has been HCV-free for four years, was honest about having had the liver virus and alleged that the doctor there told her “it was too much of a risk” for him to do the procedure. The doctor also allegedly claimed that the clinic had no proof that she was clear of the infection.
Higgins was recently profiled by local papers after graduating at the top of her class from a local adult high school. Formerly addicted to crack, she has been drug-free for nearly five years and underwent interferon treatment to cure her hepatitis C infection in 2011. She has since advocated for those in recovery and people living with HCV throughout her community.
The chairman of the Canadian Liver Foundation recently commented on Higgins’s case in an official statement, saying that any concerns the clinic had were “unfounded” and noting that even people who are currently carrying the hepatitis C virus present a very low risk of infection to medical workers as long as standard precautions are taken.