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Access to Care and the Continuum of Care

In earlier writings I talked about different aspects of what “care” is and what it represents to us. A subject that we are hearing a lot about in the last two years, with the advent of new highly curative treatments for hep c is eradication and cure. I have attended conferences and symposiums that focus almost entirely on this subject. The eradication of hepatitis c is a goal that many of us in the community dream of on a personal level as well as a national and Global level. If there is a commitment by governments and payers of all types, as well as seeing more affordable drug prices, we can see eradication in the next 20-30 years.

Cure is important to us all. Is it the whole story? Not for me.

Treating the person and not just the illness is something that resonates with me now. Maybe some will say it is because he is cured and has the luxury to say that. I hope nobody thinks that but I understand the frustration of not having equitable access to treatment in an era when we have a cure for almost all of those living with HCV. For people who work in peer navigation and support, we hear it day in and  day out… about people being refused access to treatment, and I know the pain and desperation that many feel when facing barriers to treatment.

If quality of life is the real goal, which is inclusive of being free from illness, or at the very least reasonable management of that illness, as we see with chronic illness’ like HIV.

There is one large difference between HCV and HIV; there is no real management of hepatitis c.

We know that diet and other factors can impact progression of liver damage and disease. Any steps that can slow the advance of disease is a positive thing, and the sharing of information and training of more people in clinics and other community based settings is key as we move forward. Being in care does not just mean blood work and testing, but should also include counseling and support. Support can take many forms and for some populations can include housing and financial assistance. Community; peers, (People with lived experience) should always play a big role when possible, and be a part of the continuum of care to include program development and implementation. Peers, family, medical professionals, caregivers, and payers all have to be part of a comprehensive approach to reaching and maintaining wellness and a reasonable quality of life.

Once a person has completed treatment-what then?

We are usually told that we will follow up with our primary care doctors and for some people this may well be a great model, but for others it will not suffice. If there are underlying health issues that may or may not have been caused by the chronic illness or treatment, they need to be addressed as part of any continuum of care.

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.