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Denied: Why Can’t I Get Treatment?

Recently, I have been hearing about people being denied care and treatment because of prior failed treatments. The reasons they are told are not all the same, but there is clearly a systemic flaw in the way some providers are denying access to re-treatments. In some instances, people are accused, and I mean accused, of re-infection, which carries the drug use blaming, or non-compliance. They may receive a lecture about how costly treatment is, or worse. When I emphasize the word accused, it is because it is another version of stigma and blame.

To me, this is inappropriate, especially in the context of treatment failure. Hearing that treatment has failed is difficult enough without being blamed or made to feel it is somehow your fault. Sadly, some are even told that you have to wait an extended period of time before qualifying for re-treatment if at all.

The difficulties of fighting for treatment

This is not everyone’s experience, I know. More often than not, in the US, it comes down to what sort of insurance you have, if you have any at all. Some of you will already have battled to be treated once, all the time seeking the care you need and deserve. Others may not have experienced these challenges at all; You are one of the lucky ones, in my experience, but I typically only hear from the people who were not so lucky. The re-treatment process can be difficult and a range of ways, with a humiliating stigma attached, and hopelessness, anxiety, and in some cases, depression or worse.

My experience with hep C stigma

In my own experience seeking treatment, it was slower than I wanted, but I never felt disrespected or judged. That came later, and unfortunately, I felt the sting of the stigma too common in hep C. The stigma is a sort of denial, in my view. Being denied respect and dignity is never right, regardless of the setting, in healthcare or elsewhere. Understanding that the end of stigma associated with hep C will not end anytime soon, there are things we can do to minimize or stake out our place of dignity, which is everybody’s right.

How to stand up to stigma & discrimination

If someone says something that seems like stigma/discrimination, challenge it– not angrily, but I do understand that may be your first thought or reaction. If we can address the comment with a question or statement that disarms and educates, we can create a learning experience for the offender. If the person persists with a disrespectful tone, simply remove yourself from the environment, stating why. Deny them the dignity they have tried to take from you, because they have proven that they do not deserve your respect. Not everyone is open to learning new things or has the empathy we would hope. They are denying themselves the opportunity to learn and grow, but that does not mean we should simply accept their denial or judgement of us.

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.