An Ounce of Prevention

The old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” raises some relevant questions and concerns when it comes to hep C. Benjamin Franklin is attributed as the one who gave us this bit of wisdom a very long time ago. The idiom can be used to describe any action that prevents a greater and worse outcome in the absence of action to stop or mitigate the damage, defying one of Newton’s law of physics, which states that there will be an equal and opposite reaction, but I am getting off topic. This is not physics and I am no physicist.

Hep C Is Preventable

Prevention is a good thing, and we can all agree to that when it comes to any disease. Not a new or ground breaking idea or concept, I know, but an important piece with hep C. New hep C transmission should be, by and large, preventable. Understanding the challenges is important and contrary to the general belief they are not only seen in the area of drug use. Poverty, medical practices, and so many other factors play a role in any successful plan to eliminate hep C globally. Where you live it may be seen as only one issue, the most effective way to address transmission, but that may be entirely different 50 miles away, or 5000 miles away.

I am in favor of any action that can stem the tide of transmission, and there can be no single template. We are looking at a diverse group of people and the strategies need to be just as diverse. In the area where I live there is a large number of people who are more likely to get hep C from drug use unless robust harm reduction is put in place, and that does not mean that all people living with this disease are using drugs. But, drug use without easily-accessible and stigma-free precautions raises the chance of new transmission.

How Do We Implement Effective Prevention Programs?

In some places in the world, people remain at risk from transmission because of poor adherence to sterilization protocols. Yes, going to the local clinic can put people at risk in some places where health care providers reuse needles and other medical devices. There is some evidence to suggest many baby boomers got hep C through medical procedures years ago before it was well-understood or standard practice to sterilize properly.

Do we all know what are the best practices in preventing new cases? Education and awareness are key if we are going to see an elimination of HCV. It will take more than an ounce of prevention to see it happen on a global scale and even within some communities here at home, wherever that is. It has always been my belief that we can do better, and I think we are making some headway. But, until there is better awareness and programs that push aside stigma and any other barriers to the things that are proven to be effective, we will not see true elimination of hep C.

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