Answers: "I'm Afraid to Start Hepatitis C Treatment"
Many years ago, the treatment options for hepatitis C were limited and ineffective, and had harsh side effects. Fortunately, new hep C treatment options are better than ever. But many still have fears about starting hep C treatment, especially if they were treated before without success.
To better address treatment questions and fears, we asked our HepatitisC.net advocates, "What would you say to someone who’s afraid to start hepatitis C treatment?" Here is what they shared:
"It’s best to understand the reasons why someone’s afraid and address those issues. But in general, the only way to get cured is to do treatment. With a high cure rate of 95% for most cases, fewer side effects, and shorter treatment time, hep C treatment is a brief period compared to the rest of your life."
"Treatment is your best option to be hep C-free. Most of the current antiviral medications are highly effective (95%+), have minimal side effects, self-administered at home, and relatively short (10 to 12 weeks). They are expensive, so if you don't have insurance, you should enroll in one of many programs that subsidize treatment."
"Apart from basic reassurance with my own lived experience of having taken the treatment and having a very positive experience with it, I would probably say something like this: 'I know you’re afraid. Afraid of it being painful or uncomfortable. Afraid of accruing debt to save your life. Afraid of what your friends and family might think if they knew that you had HCV. Afraid that you’ve waited too long ... These are all normal and understandable fears. But, the bravest people are often the most afraid. Resilience is built from being afraid. Being afraid and then overcoming that fear by just doing it anyway. However, you don’t have to do it completely alone. Online forums like the one here on HepatitisC.net may not be the same as in-person support, but they are a safe space for you to get information on your questions that you have and to talk with others who have been through what you are going through about your experiences.'"
"Hepatitis C treatment sounded so scary for me. Once I understood that the virus was destroying my liver, it didn’t matter. I just wanted to be free of it. My doctor talked to me about treatment to reduce my anxiety. In the end, it was up to me to make the decision. If someone is afraid of starting hepatitis C treatment, I would tell them that it’s a life-saving decision. No one else is going to save their lives. It is up to them to put their health first. All of those fears seemed silly to me once I start treatment. The path to getting cured of hepatitis C has never been easier."
"Now is the time to start treatment. The old regimen of interferon gave treating hepatitis C a bad name. However, new medications are remarkable. They are curing in less time and with NO SHOTS, only a pill. The side effects are so minimal as well. Most people on treatment are able to work and continue daily life as normal. The sooner you treat, the less damage to your liver is done. If you continue to wait, damage is being done that will then start causing other issues within your body. Untreated, hep C not only destroys a liver, but can cause other serious health issues."
"It’s totally normal to be afraid to start a brand new treatment, no matter what condition it may be for. Much of the time, fear of starting a new treatment is based in not having sufficient information about the treatment, such as how it works, what side effects you may or may not experience, and how to handle those side effects if you do experience them. The best people to address these fears with are your prescribing doctor and other people who have first-hand experience of taking the treatment. Schedule a conversation with your doctor to discuss your concerns and ask them if they know of any local hepatitis C support groups that you can join. You can also search the web for hepatitis C support groups and check out the many informational posts on HepatitisC.net!"
"As a pharmacist, I have seen numerous people successfully finish hep C treatment. The majority of them had positive experiences throughout their treatment course and would do it over again if they had to. Taking the first step can be extremely scary; However, you will be so glad you did! As always, seeking the support of a community such as Hepatitisc.net can really help throughout the treatment course."
"Treatment has evolved over time. The interferon and ribavirin regimen, which caused many side effects and was only successful approximately 40% of time, is no longer being used. The newer direct-acting antivirals cure close to 100% of patients. Duration of treatment is only 8 to 12 weeks, side effects are minimal, and the majority of patients are cured. There is nothing to make you afraid."
Do you experience long-term side effects from hep C treatment?