Hep C treatment challenges may include overcoming stigma, managing side effects, and coping with financial costs. But support is available.
If you’ve received a hepatitis C diagnosis, it’s important to learn about the condition and your treatment options so you can understand the potential benefits and risks of different treatment approaches.
In most people, hepatitis C can be cured with proper treatment. But recovery may be a journey with bumps in the road. Here are some challenges you might face and strategies for overcoming them.
Being treated for hepatitis C as soon as possible may reduce your risk of serious complications such as liver scarring or cancer. That’s why it’s vital to get informed and start making decisions about your options.
Here are some ways you can learn more:
- Ask a healthcare professional for patient-friendly information about hepatitis C and how it’s treated.
- If you don’t understand something a healthcare professional has told you, ask if they can try to explain it again using simpler terms.
- Look for online resources from credible organizations such as the American Liver Foundation, the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
Even if you haven’t developed clear symptoms of hepatitis C, treatment is important. Early treatment may help prevent liver damage. It may also improve your long-term outlook for a full recovery.
Many people with hepatitis C experience stigma related to the disease. This happens when friends, family members, or other community members treat the condition as shameful.
It’s also possible to internalize stigma. This happens when you negatively judge yourself for having hepatitis C.
In some cases, fear of stigma might make you hesitant to get treatment. But there’s nothing shameful about having hepatitis C. No matter how you contracted the infection, you deserve to be treated with care and respect.
If you feel like a healthcare professional is judging you, consider switching to a different healthcare professional or treatment center. If you’re experiencing isolation, anxiety, or other difficult emotions, consider looking for a mental health professional who can help you cope with the social and emotional effects of the disease.
Treatment for hepatitis C can be expensive. If the costs of care are too high for you to manage, you might be eligible for financial help.
Several financial assistance programs are available for uninsured and underinsured people with hepatitis C. To learn more about these programs, explore the American Liver Foundation’s Financial Assistance Resources.
Depending on your health history, you might also be eligible to participate in a clinical trial. If you take part in a trial, you’ll receive experimental treatment for free. A healthcare professional can help you understand the potential benefits and risks of getting experimental treatment.
In the long term, antiviral treatment can help cure hepatitis C. It can also reduce your risk of liver scarring, liver cancer, and other potentially life threatening complications.
But in the short term, treatment can cause uncomfortable side effects. If you’re worried about the potential side effects of treatment, talk with a healthcare professional. They can help you understand the pros and cons of different treatment approaches. They can also help you develop strategies for managing any side effects you may experience.
People who use injected drugs are at a
If you use injected drugs and have a substance use disorder, you may find it harder to stick to a hepatitis C treatment plan. One option is to seek treatment for hepatitis C and substance use disorder at the same time. A substance use counselor can help you develop strategies for overcoming substance use concerns and managing drug cravings.
To learn about substance use treatment programs, you can call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). SAMHSA also provides a searchable online database of treatment programs. If it’s difficult for you to find an affordable treatment program, you might qualify for a state-sponsored program.
Antiviral treatment can help cure hepatitis C and prevent potentially life threatening complications from the disease.
If you’re finding it difficult to get treatment, consider visiting a community health center or connecting with a patient organization online. They may be able to refer you to support services. Many organizations and resources are available to help you access treatment for hepatitis C.