Hep C is Curable!
March 18, 2018
Hep C treatment
Hep C treatments are better than ever, and now, there is even a cure for Hep C! These treatments are a type of medication called antivrials. These medications work by lessening the amount of Hep C virus in our bodies. Less Hep C virus in our bodies means less impact on our livers and overall health. Most of us are able to find a treatment that will cure our Hep C. If our treatment is successful, we will have a sustained viral response (SVR), and we can no longer find Hep C in our blood during a blood test, and the damage to our liver that Hep C can cause stops.
For those of us who are living with Hep C and are ready to talk about getting Hep C treatment, connecting with peers who have Hep C or have taken Hep C treatment may be a great place to start! In British Columbia, we recommend Help4Hep peer support, where someone who has or has had Hep C is able to speak with us. We can get in touch by email at [email protected] to set a time to talk, or call 1-888-411-7578.
Getting Hep C treatment starts with getting a doctor who we're comfortable talking to about our lives, and a doctor who is knowledgeable about Hep C. YouthCO and Help4Hep can help us find a doctor. Once we have a doctor, we will need to do a few kinds of medical tests to understand what Hep C treatment may work best in our bodies. Right now in BC, there are six different (free!) drugs that can cure Hep C. When we are taking Hep C treatment, we will be taking at least one pill each day for 8 to 24 weeks.
When considering treatment, we may want to plan for common side effects such as tiredness, headaches, and feeling sick to our stomach (nausea). Plans may include slowing down our schedule, getting access to healthy food, or staying in a place where we are able to sleep well. It can also be helpful to tell our doctors about our health and our plans. For example, if we are pregnant or may become pregnant, or if we are taking prescription drugs, street drugs, or other medicine, our doctor can be sure to factor that into plans for Hep C treatment.
Taking care of our bodies with or without treatment
Whether or not we're ready for Hep C treatment, there are a lot of ways we can take care of our bodies while we have Hep C. Having support from peers and a health centre is a really great start. Together, peers and our health team (like a doctor or a nurse) can help us take care of ourselves by managing how much we drink, inject, or smoke, getting lots of rest and healthy foods, connecting with our culture, and being physically active. All of these things can help us take care of our sexual, mental, and physical health.
Advocating for our care
Doctors are required to provide us the best medical care they can. Unfortunately, stigma means some doctors believe that we can not get Hep C treatment if we are using certain drugs, or if we have mental health diagnoses. If we are hearing this kind of stigma from our doctors, we can look for another doctor and/or we can lodge a complaint. YouthCO and Help4Hep can help in this case. The only reason that Hep C treatments will not be provided to us for free through BC Pharmacare is if we aren't able to take these medications every day. For example, if we don't have a safe place to keep our Hep C medications, or if we are too high to keep track of time regularly, our doctors may not prescribe Hep C medications.
Getting Hep C treatment and getting Hep C out of our bodies means we will have long lives ahead of us. The less time Hep C is in our bodies, the less harm it can do to our livers. And, the less Hep C we have in our bodies, the less likely we are to pass it on to another person. Learning more about the Hep C treatments than can cure us is a great way to take care of our bodies!
Organizations like YouthCO can help us advocate for the care that is best for us! Reach out by phone, email, or social media - all this information is available below!