Module 6: Treatment options - section 4

In this document:

Receiving treatment – personal stories 2

Activity: Video with brief discussion
Section Time: 6 minutes (Extract 10’12 -15’33)
Materials required: Access to ‘HCV Facts – Focussing on interferon treatment’ QuickTime movie as part of training manual resource pack

Show Slide 6.8 (Video) and introduce film:

This film (21’30) in total shows interviews with health care professionals and PWHCV with the aim to dispel fears around HCV treatment and bring hope to those going through treatment or thinking of going on the treatment. Extract (10’12 -15’33) shows the experience of a woman who underwent successful HCV treatment.

Supporting content:

Deciding whether or not to treat hepatitis C is an individual and complex decision. Some people really need more urgent HCV treatment and others may wait until newer, more effective, and less toxic therapies are available. Medical need is one of several other factors to be taken into account including cost and length of treatment the potential adverse treatment effects and lifestyle related choices. People infected with HCV should be able to work in close partnership and with full support of healthcare professional, to be informed and given choices to help determine the best treatment options and match these to individual priorities for managing infection. Clearing the virus is not the most important goal for everyone. In some cases, treatment may be more likely to improve the condition of your liver than to clear the virus. In other cases, treatment may not be necessary right away, or ever.

The major advantage that treatment offers is that it is the only proven way of clearing the virus. People have undoubtedly cleared the virus in other ways but only in very small numbers and there has been no other way that has been proven to work consistently. Treatment has been shown to improve the health of the liver by reducing inflammation. It may also be able to reverse fibrosis or even cirrhosis. This can happen, although less often, even in people who do not clear the virus. Clearing the virus or even reducing any infection related damage can have a positive impact on quality of life for those infected.

The major disadvantages to treatment are the side effects and the impact they can have on lifestyle during the treatment period. Occasionally, the side effects can be so severe that they force people to abandon treatment. In rare instances some people are left with an illness after treatment stops, such as thyroid disease or diabetes. Some people report that the side effects continue for considerable periods, often longer than the treatment regimen, after treatment has finished, and persistent healthcare issues continue to the extent that they impact significantly on everyday activities such as sleeping, socializing and employment compromising post treatment re-adjustment. In such situations, even when treatment has been successful in clearing the virus, there may be persistent impairment in quality of life

There are many new drugs in development for HCV that may be more effective and easier to tolerate and many people, particularly if tests reveal good liver functioning, may delay treatment. Men and women should take precautions to avoid pregnancy during HCV treatment. Ribavirin, used in combination treatment, should not be used during pregnancy. Ribavirin is known to cause severe birth defects and any woman of child bearing age or man with a female partner of child-bearing age undergoing treatment with ribavirin will be required to use two reliable forms of birth control during treatment and for 6 months after completion of treatment.

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