With proper treatment, most people with hepatitis C can be cured of the infection. But the road to recovery isn’t always easy. Here are some of the challenges you might face along the way — and strategies for overcoming them.
If you’ve been diagnosed with hepatitis C, it’s important to learn about the condition and your treatment options. This can help you understand the potential benefits and risks of different treatment approaches.
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.
To learn more:
- Ask your doctor or other healthcare providers for patient-friendly information about hepatitis C and how it’s treated.
- If you don’t understand something that your healthcare provider 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 (ALF), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).
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.
Stigma or shame
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. It’s important to remind yourself that there’s nothing shameful about having hepatitis C. No matter how you got the infection, you deserve to be treated with care and respect.
If you feel like your doctor or other healthcare providers are judging you, consider switching to a new doctor or treatment center. If you’re having feelings of isolation, anxiety, or other negative emotions, consider looking for a mental health professional who can help you cope with the social and emotional effects of the disease.
You might also find it helpful to connect with other people who have hepatitis C by joining a support group, taking part in online forums, or calling Help4Hep’s peer helpline.
Financial costs of treatment
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 will receive experimental treatment for free. Your doctor can help you understand the potential benefits and risks of getting experimental treatment.
Side effects from 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.
In the short-term, treatment can cause uncomfortable side effects. If you’re worried about the potential side effects of treatment, talk to your doctor. They can help you understand the pros and cons of different treatment approaches. They can also help you develop strategies for managing side effects if you develop them.
Substance use disorders
People who use injected drugs are at a higher risk for contracting Hepatitis C.
For people who use injected drugs and have a substance use disorder, it may be harder to stick to a hepatitis C treatment plan. One option is to seek treatment for both the hepatitis C infection and substance use or addiction concerns at the same time. A substance use counselor can help develop strategies for overcoming addiction and managing drug cravings.
To learn about substance use treatment programs, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA) helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). SAMSA also provides a searchable online database of treatment programs. If it’s difficult to find an affordable treatment program, it may be possible to 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 the support services you need. There are many organizations and resources available to help people get treatment for hepatitis C.