Politics and Hep C
Disconnected to some perhaps, but not so strange when we think about it. Politicians are very much connected to policy and policies drive action sometimes, but as most of us know, not in every instance. Well, I am starting to sound a little like a politician and I apologize if I am, and it must be from spending too much time around them in one of my roles as an advocate.
Policy does not always translate into action, and this is as obvious as how night follows day to you and me.
Often times the policy sounds wonderful or at least adequate in addressing whatever issue it is meant to, but too often there is plenty of dazzle, but little real substance. This is true with hep C as much as it is with anything.
What Does Politics Have to Do with Hep C?
You may be asking yourself what governments or politicians have to do with hep C and me. The fact is there is a very big connection that impacts healthcare for all of us. The price of treatment drugs, the availability of medical care and general access to care is all affected by policy decisions and their implementation, or what I call action. You see, without any meaningful action to back up the intention/policies, it is meaningless.
A good example worth looking at is screening (testing) guidelines. We know that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued screening guidelines years ago now, and I quote “Of the estimated 3.2 million people chronically infected with hepatitis C in the U.S., approximately 75% were born during 1945-1965, or are baby boomers.”1
Where Does Policy Meet Action?
Did this lead to widespread effort to reach this population living with hep C that was perhaps for decades and unknowingly getting sicker with each passing year? No, is the simple answer, and it was not until new and more effective drugs reached the market did we see any broad effort to make this population aware of their condition and the seriousness of it. Oddly enough, in my opinion, the drug company selling one of the most popular drugs did more to raise awareness than any government body or community groups and individuals like myself. Clearly the drug company has an interest in selling their drug, and fair enough, that is what they do. But, where were the agencies that should act on behalf of public health? Bad policies? Bad intent? I will let you decide, but for me, it was a number of reasons, with stigma playing a part.
Some jurisdictions have done a better job than others. It doesn’t help now to make comparisons, but the fact is that in some states, provinces, and countries they have managed to take action in response to hep C that others could use as a model for their own response. If you can take time to find out who is responsible for making policies where you live and they are not doing a good job, ask them why. Don’t let them give you political double talk because you know what to ask them, I know you do. You know what has to be done, and so do I.