Last updated: March 2022
Success can be one of those words with very different meanings for different people. How success is measured is often done by scales that tend to tip towards winning and beating something.
Limiting your exposure
Success is generally defined as being cured for those of us in the community of people with living or lived experience. As we know, DAA therapy can defeat the virus, unless we get it again.
This is not common, even in people who use drugs, there is access to vital harm reduction services such as new and unused needles, as well as pipes.
You may wonder about pipes and may not know that many more people are smoking substances now, and there is a chance of transmission when sharing pipes with blood present from burnt lips that bleed. Success in this context is prevention.
If we can take steps to prevent exposure, we can minimize the risk. This is a huge success.
Remembering that having poor access to these tools to keep you safe is not your failure, and it is the failure of systems that are ignoring or poorly funding harm reduction action.
Success can be measured in several ways as we know. Getting tested, getting the help you need with care, and treating to eliminate the virus will always be a success.
The battles we're still fighting
Please don’t ever let someone suggest you are any less worthy or that you have a life that is less valued in any way because it isn’t. It is more likely a failure on their part in being empathetic or compassionate.
We can include a lack of being well informed and understanding as a kind of failure in people who are so quick to judge harshly. It is not your failure.
This subject has been well covered over the years and we call this stigma. Sadly, it still exists despite our efforts in the community to inform people better and teach people better practices.
Some improvements need mentioning, but we still have a long road ahead to change the views that add to discrimination and harm. Sadly, most often, we see stigma in healthcare settings.
Perhaps you are one of the lucky ones who has not seen this hurtful side of hep C, and that is success if we see more respectful experiences like yours.
I hope that becomes everyone’s experience and I think we will see that one day as attitudes change. On a personal level, we should never accept that we are diminished in any way because we have an infection.
We are not lacking success because we have hep C. Keeping safe and seeking the care we need is a success every time if the barriers are removed and we are treated with respect and dignity, which we all deserve. Me, you, and all of us.
That is a success.