Hep C and Drugs

On the topic of drug use (current or past drug), we see some deep divisions in community, and diverse views, to say the least. As advocates, and as people who are living with or have lived with hep c, we are all aware of the stigma associated with a hep C diagnosis, and all that follows. Unfortunately, this has led to some less than encouraging splits, or fractures, within the broader community of people affected. These splits have also among those who are working in healthcare, and among other providers of care or information about hep C. As is often the case with disease, we see people separate into camps or tribes.

This debate distracts us

I would say that this is unfortunate, because, it distracts from any unified and singularly potent voice coming from the community. I know some will disagree, and we are all entitled to our opinion, but from my view, it is an unfortunate consequence that still divides and weakens the collective voice. A collective voice has more strength and power to affect positive change, but in our modern age, we see a concerted effort to divide and create dysfunction both politically and socially.

We have made strides in stigma, however incremental, and we are moving in a better direction (at least in some places). Some factions subscribe to the belief that hep C is about social change and justice, but is it for everyone? “No” is the simple answer for me. Is the goal with hep c all about any one thing, I don’t believe so, and when we lose sight of the complex nature of how disease and social disparities intersect, we can lose some effectiveness in the message. But that does not mean that we should all run in one direction towards the latest version of what matters most in addressing hep C.

Everyone deserves unbiased care

To be defined by our age, social or financial standing, or any other measure of how sociologists and epidemiologists define people, misses the mark for me. Can we not have an overarching and big picture view, or are we destined to further separate into those camps I mentioned? In my own work, some people identify me as the older white man. Well, I am white in color, there is no denying that, and I am older as well, but there is a lot of baggage that some people attach to the label “older white man”. Ultimately, I am no victim. I am not suggesting that I am for a second, I assure you. I am not defined by race, color, or age, and will never accept that these things have any relevance in respect to my lived experience and perspective on who is, or has been, the most deserving of care. The simple thing is that all people deserve to be treated fairly, without discrimination and stigmatization, even with a hep C medical status.

Reaching true equity

Whether I was a drug user, or I am currently, has no relevance in judging me or anyone. It should not represent a barrier in access to care. So, yes, there is an intersection between drug use and hep C for many, but it should never be a reason to make access to care a challenge. In fact, true equity would make for improved or enhanced access, as is required for all people.

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