Retention in Care: Testing and Treatment for Hep C

For years, many of us in the hep C sector cried out for people to get tested. Along the way and over the years, as we have witnessed and the data has showed us, testing was not nearly enough. It appears to be a good message for Baby Boomers, but for everyone, else not so much.

Hepatitis C testing and treatment

The British Columbia Centre for Disease Control Testers Cohort Study, a large cohort of over 2 million, shows us that for Baby Boomers who have been tested, their uptake into care and treatment is quite good, and that is not so surprising. But with people who are in other population cohorts, such as people who have substance use as a part of their life, it is not such a good story. The drop off in linkage and retention in the cascade of care is markedly missing and that means that very few people go on to receive the care and treatment they need, meaning that they will not benefit from the cure some of us may take for granted.

How can we do better?

The implications, as I see it, help to inform on where, who, and when we should initiate actions that improve care in an equitable way. This is not to say that there does not need to be wider awareness and understanding about hep C and who should pursue testing and as needed; Equity speaks to how some need more support and help, and that may be as a result of their financial limitations, access to healthcare, substance use across the spectrum, or any other barrier to care.

Helping others

If we don’t open our eyes and minds to the realities people face as far as barriers to care, we will not ever win our fight against hep C and all that it can do to diminish our health. You may ask yourself what you can do. Well, that depends on your own ability to do things, and that is not a criticism or even a challenge, just a reality we all face. If you had a million dollars, maybe you would donate some to a worthy cause, or volunteer your time? The thing is, that most of us do not have a million dollars laying around and never have, but that is not the bar to set anyway, is it? Of course, it isn’t, and we know that.

Being realistic about our own ability and capacity is important, and I know it is something I need to check myself from time to time. Perhaps we can give some of our time to help move the dial, if even just for one person, it is worth the effort and truly is a win-win for both you and the person you help.

There is no end to the ways we can help, and it is worth exploring if you can. However small, and however unimportant it may seem at first, you have that choice to make, not me. There are many of our friends, whether we have met them yet or ever do, who need our help.

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