How Demographic Data Can Help Curb Hep C Spread

Hepatitis C can affect people of any age and any walk of life, people as uniquely different as we can imagine. The phase or stage of hep C dictates the individual approach to treatment, so it is important to measure these things. However, it can also be helpful to gather data about those infected, looking for new patterns that might help stop or curb the spread of hep C as long as that data is used ethically.

Younger people seem less concerned about hep C stigma

For instance, I have noticed that younger people are more likely to move on after their hep C journeys. When I say move on, I mean get on with their day-to-day living like before diagnosis. Younger people appear to be less likely to see the virus as a scary thing. They do not seek group support from others who have hep C like I have seen among older people.

Partly, this may be because treatment is so much easier than in the past and far more effective at stopping the virus in its tracks (cure). The fear of treatment is less acute now across the board and, from what I see, is less of an issue among young people. Perhaps it is due to a generational difference, or maybe hep C has been normalized more now than in the past. Maybe we are making some real strides in ending the burden of stigma that hep C has carried. Perhaps it is all these things in varying degrees, and nobody should argue that it is a bad thing, in my view.

As a group, they might need more hepatitis C education

All we can reasonably hope for is that people inform themselves and make decisions that are in their best interest as being evidence-based and safe for them, no matter their age. However, we also need to ensure young people are taking hep C seriously. I think that we need to do more to inform the younger generation about the health risks posed by untreated infection and present the best options for their care because the sooner people are rid of the virus, the better our long-term outcomes will be.

Disease demographics can be helpful if used ethically

In this sense, data can be helpful. If we see higher numbers in one demographic group, such as young people, we can ramp up efforts to test and treat as well as take steps to provide harm reduction services and useful information to help prevent new cases. We do, however, have to be responsible in using those numbers. When those numbers are used in discriminatory or unethical ways, creating barriers to care and treatment, this is clearly a gross misuse of information.

Let’s focus on public health rather than blame

In my family, three generations have had hep C. Is that unique? I have no idea. They were not immediate family members, so the virus was not passed from contact with each other. With all the ways that people can get hep C, it should be no surprise, at least to me. Anyone can get hepatitis C and remember, it doesn’t really matter how they contracted the virus unless we are using that data to focus efforts on different populations like public health agencies often do.

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