"This is a historic decision," Block said. "We can now pull out the DOJ settlement and really guide these people: 'What you're facing is discrimination, and here are the tools to help.' That's powerful."
Nguyen said he had no idea he was a carrier until he started medical school. That's when he began to feel persistently tired and lost the ability to concentrate. Given a family history of liver cancer — of which hepatitis is the leading cause — his doctor had him tested. It came back positive.
Nguyen alerted the school and said he was told by an administrator that he would never be able to complete the required surgical rotation because "no operating room in the country will let you in."
"That's when I started almost panicking," Nguyen said. "To this point I had been a good student. All the sudden my world was crashing, with all this debt and all the things I had worked for in jeopardy."
He said the school began making life more difficult for him, to the point where he felt he had no choice but to leave.
With successful treatment, the virus is now undetectable in his blood and Nguyen said he is feeling better — and plotting a return to his medical studies. He said he's leaning toward a career in hepatology, so he can help others like him.
The specialty is "definitely at the top of the list," Nguyen said. "I understand the risk and the mental strain. I have a lot of compassion for those individuals."
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