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Hepatitis C: We Are Not Done Yet

I was on a call recently with a handful of clinical science research people; I respect them for their work in the science of hep C. A comment made by one of the esteemed clinical scientists struck me. They were talking about the work that remains to be done with hep C, and they said that aside from the monitoring of people and the data collected, as well as elimination of the virus according to the World Health Organization target of 2030, there was no real work left to do.

I understand that from a clinical science or any other science perspective this may well be accurate, but does that mean there is nothing left to do regarding hep c? No.

Many patients are unaware of their hep C status

This is not to say that, from a science perspective, there is not a great deal to be learned as far as eliminating the virus in individuals, but there certainly still remains much to do if we are going to see an end to new infection, as well as the testing and treatment of those people who are walking around unaware of their status. There is still work that needs to be done around any long-term effects of DAA therapy in some people.

These are things for science and the academic pursuit. These are not going to address directly the impact or implications of hep C on our life outside of the physiology of hep c and how it affects us from a psycho-social perspective. The implications for different populations, plainly spoken, is different. There are different groups as diversely affected as they are themselves diverse, in age, socio-economic status, drug use, ethnicity, gender, comorbidity, and all the other factors that make us different to one another or as demographic groups. To suggest that a once daily pill solves all of the issues that a person diagnosed with hep c deals with is a very narrow view.

The long-term effects of hep C & treatment

The reality that many people face is that even with a cure for hep C, patients are left with physical health effects, and in some cases, mental health. It is not uncommon for there to be residual and persistent issues post-treatment, and this is often left to the primary care provider to manage. The knowledge among primary care providers about hep C, treatment, and aftercare is limited, at best, with few exceptions in my experience. This is not meant to blame them, there just has not been much effort made to help these care providers better understand the effects of hep c and treatment.

Many patients haven’t been treated

One important thing that is still needed is a well-resourced effort to better inform care providers about hep C and the short-term and long-term effects of this chronic illness. Unfortunately for many, the notion of a cure has meant that it is done, over, all good now. This is simply not true, in my view.
Many remain undiagnosed and linked to care, and many who have been tested have never received care for their hep C. We don’t even understand why these people who have been diagnosed have not received any hep C care; For many, there is a barrier to healthcare access, financial limitations, or other reasons. Is it that they have much more pressing issues, like food, drug access, housing security? We don’t know why, and to speculate is merely that- speculation.

Plainly, hep c is not done yet – not at all.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.