Many individuals bravely provide services, support, and relief for people with hepatitis C (hep C). Some achieve from a social standpoint, reducing stigma and raising awareness. Others educate and conduct research, create new treatments and technologies, hold events, and provide training and education.

Countless scientists and doctors have devoted their entire life’s work to studying hep C. Community leaders and activists have given generously of their time to help the community of people living with the condition. A few of their stories have intersected with mine, and I consider them to be my personal hep C heroes.

Darnella Allen

This hep C hero’s superpower is confidence. After being diagnosed, she didn’t give up. She discovered that many other people had no resources and took action. Darnella formed Liver Education Advocacy & Prevention Services (LEAPS) in 2006. The first hep C podcast came next, and regular interviews on her call-in show. Her support group provides information, referrals, and education for African-American communities impacted by hep C.

Andrea Cox

A medical professor with a heart for the laboratory, Andrea also dreams big dreams. Her superpower is passion. She’s excited about teaching and for a future that is hep-C-free. She is using her passion to help create a vaccine that would control the hep C virus. With her futuristic vision, it may come true.

Corinna Dan

This hero’s superpower is leadership. When Corinna talks about hep C, people listen. As a government policy advisor, her listeners are educators, supervisors, policy-makers in government, researchers, and all levels of professionals in the medical field. With a keen mind, and a kind heart, she can’t be defeated in her fight against hepatitis.

Donald Jensen

This mild mannered doctor began his work in a research lab helping to develop interferon — a medication — to cure hep C. As part of a larger unit, he searched for 25 years to unlock the secrets of the virus. His superpower is patient care. He was part of the initial investigation to make the triple therapy treatment available to consumers. As a fellow runner, he reached out to me on my website. It was during an interview with Dr. Jensen that I first heard the term “cure” used in relation to hep C.

Carleen and James McGuffey

This dynamic duo intends to wipe out hep C. After Carleen’s diagnosis, James began fundraising for the American Liver Foundation by mountain climbing. After clearing the virus, she joined him at local events, visiting policy makers and traveling by bus to set up mobile testing sites for hep C. Their superpower is awareness and they work in unity on their quest.

Lucinda Porter

After being diagnosed with hep C, this nurse began searching for solutions. As a health writer, her superpower is knowledge. This wordsmith uses her pen to educate and her work helps eliminate stigma. Her reassuring words motivate many to get medical advice. Her witty tongue makes hep C seem less like a bad guy and more like a defeated foe.

Lorren Sandt

When her brother was diagnosed, Lorren formed the first National Hepatitis C Advocacy Council, saw it merge with another thriving coalition, and then turned her focus to Caring Ambassadors. Her superpower is recruiting. If there is a need for an advocate, she finds one to get the job done. She uses technology and partnerships to cut through red tape and is always working towards removing the threat of hep C.

Sue Simon

When she was diagnosed in 1991, there was not a good treatment for hep C, and very few people knew they had it. Her superpower is connection. She saw the need for community and created the Hepatitis C Association in 2001. Its toll-free helpline, at 877-HELP-4-HEP (877-435-7443), links individuals with education, referrals, and support. Because of Sue’s dedication, help is a phone call away.

The takeaway

Those of us with the virus sometimes feel like underdogs. I’ve met many people who experience a sense of helplessness and hopelessness about hep C. For many of us, a hep C diagnosis marks a frightening and isolating time in our lives. We need heroes who are willing to be a champion for our cause. There are many more heroes who deserve to be named and I’m among the many people who give thanks and applaud their efforts on our behalf.

Karen Hoyt is a yoga teaching, shake making, boat floating, fast walker who resides in the woods of Oklahoma. She is the author of The Liver Loving Diet and is your best friend with liver disease at Follow her on Facebook @ihelpc.karen, Twitter @hepatitisihelpc, and Instagram @karenhoyt1.