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What's A Heppo?

I have been creating heppo's for people since I was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 1999. I found that it gave me great joy, to bring a little happiness to someone that otherwise was feeling hopeless about a disease that has no cure. When I first started creating them, I could barely cut and paste, let alone design a "heppo" that resembled someone's personality. Without the undying assistance of my dear friend Lyric at HepCnet, none of this would have ever been possible.

The following bit of history is taken from HepCnet's website and used by permission.

At HepCnet, aBigSAM and Lyric, were seeking a term for people with HCV that was more suitable than the common term "hepper". They found that the term was uncomfortably close to the term "leper", which indicates a disease so highly contagious and feared that people with leprosy were shunned and sent to live on islands where they couldn't infect the rest of the population. As we all know, HCV is not that contagious, but there is still a stigma attached to the term and those who are uneducated are frightened by it.


Over a period of time, with many different forms of the word being proposed and rejected, they finally hit on "HEPPO". They immediately saw the potential for this word to be a play on the word "hippo". After much trial and error, they finally found a graphic of a hippo lounging in a tub of water and knew they had found their avatar. They refined this until they had exactly what they wanted. Their first graphic attempts were somewhat crude but they had the look they wanted. Eventually the idea caught on and the original "heppos" have been expanded upon and greatly improved by several members, notably Wannab.


The purpose in creating these avatars is to give people with HepC an image that is not frightening and can show others that we are not "lepers". These images can be used to educate children on this disease as they find them as appealing as we do. It's our way of trying to spread the word in a positive manner. Heppos are not something to be frightened of...but the disease they have IS. This is the message we are trying to convey.


Several categories of "heppos" eventually surfaced over time. We have the standard hippo figure in a tub which is used for most people infected with Hepatitis C. We try to personalize these images and show a little of what the person behind the Heppo is really all about. We also have the Transplant Heppos, which appear in a flower pot with a bag of potting soil and a shovel nearby, indicating someone with HCV who has received a liver transplant. The ones who have a flower pot, shovel and potting soil by their tubbie are awaiting transplant. Then we have our Heppo Angels. These are people without HCV who are caretakers, friends and family who have joined us in our fight. These "Angels" are shown in a tub like the standard heppo but with the addition of wings. Anything goes with our "Heppo Kids", whatever they want!


We are pleased at the positive feedback and response we have gotten to this image and have plans to expand upon it in the future. We hope to create a line of stuffed Heppos as well as products with the Heppo image which can be sold to benefit HCV patients and research. We are also interested in publishing an educational book for children, with Heppos as the main characters, to help educate them on how to avoid ever catching this disease.

 

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Hep C Overview | Liver Facts | Milk Thistle | Bek's Letter
| My Story | Kessie O'Hula
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