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Trauma and Hep C

Based on the thousands of conversation I have had with people who are dealing with hep C in their lives, whether recently diagnosed or treated and cured for years, there are some common threads. Trauma is one of those things that weaves it’s way into the story more often than is reported. It’s rarely discussed as part of our care unless we have been engaged with a therapist or counselor for help with things like anxiety or depression. Far too often our primary care doctors prescribe medications alone and have little or no training in areas that might enhance our healing.

Dealing with Illness Can Be Traumatic

Trauma can look very different, depending on what type and when it occurs. Does trauma have a direct connection to hep C? It’s a question I have pondered for years. I have come to understand that any disease or condition that attacks our body is a trauma. Unlike a car accident or any immediate physical trauma, hep C’s impact from the virus is over time. The degree of damage to the liver is one area where there is the greatest focus in medicine, but we know that it affects the whole person, to include kidneys, brain function, skin, blood sugar levels and so much more.

Is trauma addressed in clinical settings where most people receive hep C care and treatment? Not with any consistency. Is it even within the scope of the healthcare providers who are providing hep C care? This a question that should be on the table for discussion where care models are explored, studied, and developed.

Access to Help Is Key

In some settings where people receive care, such as clinics that provide services to the drug using populations, there are some locations that have resources in place on-site or services they refer people to off-site. These services can be broad or specific to certain populations, and they can range in quality just as we see with all other care. There is no singular model that works equally well for each individual or population, but there are several variations on a general theme. In places that provide care to people using drugs, there is typically a focus on harm reduction and safe practices to prevent overdose and infectious diseases like hep C, HIV, and sexually transmitted infections. There can be educational programs attached but again it varies, as much as one can imagine depending on funding and local support by city, state, or provinces.

Even when there is a defining moment or singular event in our life that we can point to as a cause for our own trauma, it doesn’t mean that we haven’t been affected as much by living with ongoing trauma like a death of a thousand cuts over time. The hep C virus is similar to the latter in that there is no great event that causes pain or immediate suffering, it is cumulative. This is for me a good reason to diagnose early and treat early. This is something we hear about with other diseases and it is or should not be any different for HCV. Why wouldn’t we address hep C with the same approach is a question that has only one good answer; yes we should!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.