Drug and Other Resistance
Last updated: May 2022
Is drug resistance with hep C a thing? We know it is, but it is not a significant thing, as it turns out, unless you are affected by it.
There is a lot of study around drug resistance with antibiotics, and it is a thing that we have heard about for decades. I recall a conversation I had 45 years ago with someone working in the field of antibiotic resistance way back then, and it scared me, to be honest, seeing how we were seeing the over-prescribing of these medications.
Typically, the few who experience breakthroughs or the virus's return after treatment can still be eradicated with a specifically available regime. This is not reinfection caused, and yes, that can happen because being SVR/cured does not protect us from future exposure and infection.
What is a treatment breakthrough?
A breakthrough occurs when a person’s viral load becomes undetectable in treatment, yet it returns during or shortly after treatment has finished. Although rare, as we see with resistance, it is a real thing if it affects you.
The retreatment in cases of reinfection is controversial for some, with a wrongful belief that people who are reinfected do not deserve a second or third treatment because they became reinfected through substance use, and therefore, it is their fault they should be punished.
Being blamed for reinfection
This mentality is insensitive and contrary to the oath that HCP takes to not harm. This is harm, plain and simple, and I struggle to understand why we would want to punish people in this way.
Thankfully, it is changing positively, and we are seeing less of this kind of approach to care for people, but sadly it persists in some places. I suggest you challenge it if you can.
Division in the community
Resistance to change factors into too many things when it comes to hep C. Attitudes and belief systems are at play, along with bias and prejudices that only divide us and will never help us.
Resist the urge to separate different types of people affected by hep C as being in a group that was exposed through medical procedures like many were in the blood supply before there was reliable testing, and it matters not as far as access to care we all deserve.
A person who used substances/drugs is no less, and in fact, may well need more help than the other group. Compassion and empathy are what we should all strive to embrace so that all of us can have the same chance at improved health and long-term improved quality of life.
Whether your treatment is unsuccessful because of resistance or discrimination and policies that affect your efforts to be cured of hep C, there is no reason to yourself feel like it is your fault and it is not.
Fault and blame have no place in biology or how we should treat one another.