EDITORIAL: STAND UP AND BE TREATED LIKE ROYALTY
The World Health Organisation (WHO) agenda is to eliminate hepatitis C by 2030.
It’s easy to become cynical about these things: after all, how many targets have we heard? How about “We can end HIV by 2020”? Or ‘End global poverty by 2030’? And who could forget “’A drug free world by 2008?’
With hep C though, I really feel as though we have both the motivation and the means.
The medication is on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) so it’s cheap for people. It’s simple and in many cases it’s one tablet a day for 8 weeks. We have testing down to an artform – the age of less invasive testing has dawned with great new options for people with scarred veins. The treatment is safe, with few, minor side effects. And it works!
There is no reason to not be tested and treated and the results are amazing.
The Kirby Institute tells us that Australia is on track to eliminate hepatitis C by 2026. Yet there are around 200,000 people still to be treated.
If you are one of those 200,000 can I ask that you read this issue of UN, that you talk to people who have had treatment, make an appointment with your GP or call NUAA to talk it through.
No matter what is holding you back, I ask that you tell someone about it and let your fears be put aside. Once you have been tested, and treated if necessary, you will feel better. Guaranteed. And you will have bought yourself more years lived in better health.
My husband was treated a few months ago. He still has the 3 empty bottles of Harvoni (representing 3 months of treatment) on the fridge, like a trophy. He will tell anyone who listens how amazing he feels to have the hep C out of his life after having it hang around for over 40 years. He no longer sweats like Katoomba Falls and he has more energy. He is less depressed and moody and more active and motivated.
Most of all, he knows he is not going to develop liver cancer. He wants to be around to see his grandchildren, but whether you have kids or not, being able to knock a health risk off the list is maybe the best reason of all. Being old and sick is a hard row to hoe. I know about that too – my first husband is on daily dialysis as a complication from hep C because the new treatments didn’t come in time for him.
I am not sure what it will take to convince you but this is what I know, peer to peer. This is not a scam. This is not another crazy elimination scheme. People I love will die of liver damage if they do not get treated.
Together, we can get rid of hep C and make this a safer, healthier community. Because the more users who are cured, the less opportunity there is for hep C to be passed on.
It is also important that we continue to focus on prevention. Once you are cleared, you don’t want it back. Accidents happen, so luckily you can be treated as many times as you need it. But let’s work on using safely, loading up with sterile equipment, having extra for our friends, so we always can be sure of being safe.
Please think hard about it. I want you healthy and safe.
Love Leah xxxx