Is it time to treat your HCV?

Recently, I have heard medical professionals and public health officials suggest that people can wait in their treatment because of how slowly the disease progresses.

Has someone suggested this is accurate in your situation?

The reality that I live in suggests that living with a viral infection which causes death in so many people, is not optimal under any circumstances.

Strong sentiments perhaps but we are now seeing people who were told 10, 20 years ago that they need not worry about their diagnosis because the disease was slow progressing and they would probably die from something else first.

Was this because there was no good treatment available at the time?

In part this is true, but unfortunately it also leads to there not being any good screening guidelines or programs to identify who was living with HCV.

The other piece is the stigma issue because it is still widely believed that only people who used drugs or received a blood transfusion prior to blood supply screening for HCV. We now know this does not hold true for everyone.

How does this all affect you?

It set the stage for future policy in ways that has impacted millions, including you and me. Whether we want to be cured of HCV should be our decision to make. This may be a radical notion to some but it makes sense to me. I understand about the cost of drugs, but this has been blown out of proportion. The fact is we can cure HCV and this will save billions in the cost of healthcare in the future.

I am reluctant to draw comparisons with other illness but I think it is fair to put things in context.
Analogous to being diagnosed with Diabetes, where people are given the opportunity to engage in counseling and will receive supports around understanding their disease, diet, changes in lifestyle, while being screened for having Chronic Hepatitis C we are left to seek out information on our own in most cases. Thanks to sites like this and some others, they can learn ways to live with and deal with HCV. The helpline I work with does a lot to inform people and give them supports and share in linking people with the resources available.

Spending on programs and services for HIV, cancer, and many others outstrips HCV by a huge margin. I won’t even get into the financial costs that some disease incurs in time. Good for those who are facing any serious illness, but not so well for our disease.

HCV can now be cured in most people, not just managed but cured.

Can you wait to receive treatment? Perhaps you can if you were exposed last year or you are one of the people who see the progression of liver damage being very slow.

Are you sick now, and do you have the symptoms of having HCV, or is that what determines your access to care and treatment?

I would encourage all people who are diagnosed with HCV to ask your provider why you cannot receive the care you need. As your physician they have a moral obligation to seek the best possible care for you, and as I am fond of saying “the squeaky wheel get the grease” which does not mean harassing your Dr. but simply speaking up for yourself, if you believe you need the best possible care and treatment.

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