Hep Heroes Judith Gorst

September 5, 2016

Judith Gorst

I am a Hep Hero because I have always been interested in and troubled by the causes of stigma and discrimination. I believe that a diagnosis with hepatitis C can cause some people to experience fear and shame and these may lead to social isolation, low self worth and depression.

I am originally from the UK and have lived in Australia for over 30 years. I am a registered nurse, a family therapist and a civil marriage celebrant.

Among other things, I work at Prahran Market Clinic as a Practice Nurse. I am in daily contact with people who have direct experience of living with the physical and stigmatizing effects of HIV and hepatitis C.

I have worked with people who are affected by blood borne viruses for the last 25 years. Listening to people with hepatitis C recount their experience of stigma and discrimination has shocked me.

I have been staggered by the inhumane treatment that some of my clients have been subjected to, frequently in medical settings.

I find some of the stories difficult to comprehend, but they explain why life may become very difficult for people living hepatitis C.

I understand why some people choose to withdraw and remove themselves from society.

I think that raising awareness of the symptoms experienced by many people living with hepatitis C is very important. This might summon more understanding and empathy from the public.

Society’s negative judgment of people with hepatitis C highlights the ignorance and lack of education that abound in relation to this virus. Until more of us stand up and challenge some of these common beliefs things will not change

Judith’s message to others:

Everyone has an important story to tell and everyone deserves respect.

Through developing a connection with my clients I am privileged with their story and as a result am exposed to their warmth, courage, determination and resilience.

These human qualities are common in all of us and I believe that it is only through connecting with a universal humanity.

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