Your Personal Health Navigator: The Hub of Your Hepatitis C Treatment Team
So, you’ve tested positive for hepatitis C. Now what? Your mind may be going a mile a minute, wondering how you got it, who you might have transmitted it to, what is going to happen to your health, and how your health may impact other parts of your life such as your ability to work. It’s totally normal to feel overwhelmed.
Coping with a new diagnosis
With any new health diagnosis, including hepatitis C, it’s important to have someone who can walk with you on your journey and help you connect with the resources that you’ll need to maintain or improve your quality of life. Whether their title is Social Worker, Medical Case Manager, Nurse, friend, partner, or family member, these health navigators will be the hub of your hpatitis C treatment team. The following is a list of some of the tasks that they may help you with:
Find a specialist
One of the very first items on the agenda is finding you a hepatologist who specializes in the treatment of hepatitis C. Sometimes, hepatitis C comes with other chronic health conditions and you will need support with connecting with other types of physician specialists who can treat those health concerns as well.
Get help with insurance and benefits
Another important task with which you may need support is navigating the world of health insurance. This might entail applying for health insurance, figuring out the costs of doctors' visits, medications, or medical supplies, or finding drug discount programs that can help make your medications more affordable.
Depending on the severity of your illness, you may also need help with applying for work accommodations or Social Security Disability (SSI/SSDI) benefits. After applying for SSI/SSDI, you may need help with finding a disability lawyer who can help you file an appeal in the event that your disability claim is denied.
Seek support for drug or alcohol use
Some people contract hepatitis C through IV drug use. If you are using drugs or alcohol, which can seriously compromise your liver health, you may need help with connecting to a treatment facility. For those who are not interested in or ready to stop injection drug use, connecting with a harm reduction facility such as a needle exchange program will be important in order to mitigate your chances of infecting yourself or others with hepatitis C, HIV, or other infectious diseases.
Prioritize your mental health
And last, but certainly not least, you may need help with finding mental health supports such as a psychotherapist or a hepatitis C support group, where you can get help with managing the difficult emotions that you may be experiencing about your new diagnosis, receive support through your treatment process, and get tips on how to approach sensitive conversations with loved ones who you may need to notify about your diagnosis.
If you don’t yet have access to a Social Worker, Medical Case Manager, Nurse, or a friend or loved one who can help you navigate these tasks, you can reach out to organizations like the American Liver Foundation where one of their Help Center representatives can connect you with the information you need from the list above.
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