The team at PHCN is happy to report that our Hep C in BC Resources project has recently drawn to a close. This project ran from last fall to the end of March.
Given the recent availability of effective hep C treatments with minimal side effects (known as “direct acting antivirals” or DAAs), we wanted to know what resources already exist f
or hepatitis C in BC, what information people need about hep C, and what hep C resource development and advocacy may lie in the future.
From mid-December to the end of January, we asked people connected to hepatitis C (with lived experience, as service providers, and the general public looking for more information) to fill out an online survey on these topics.
Across the board, respondents preferred to get their information from medical professionals (those with specific hepatitis C training first, and medical professionals as a broad group second) and the Internet. Respondents identified a wide variety of resources they had found helpful—though it is interesting to note that service providers mentioned high level, online resources more often than people who lived experience (who mentioned peer-led resources more often).
Speaking more specifically to the involvement of peers, many respondents spoke positively of peer supports, or expressed a desire to be more connected with them. For us at PHCN, this presents a huge opportunity moving forward—prioritizing peer-led supports and ensuring the peer voice is heard in everything we do should always be a goal.
The most pressing information needs that were identified were surrounding hepatitis C treatment. Many respondents wanted to know if you need to pay for treatment for hepatitis C in BC (a question particularly relevant with the end of fibrosis staging restrictions in BC!) and what side effects—if any—are common with treatment. Respondents also felt that making treatment accessible for all was both a priority for information and advocacy in future.
Another opportunity for advocacy that responses frequently came back to was the impact of stigma. The fact that stigma surrounding hepatitis C impacts every aspect of life was emphasized—and more specifically, that stigma affects perceptions of others in the hepatitis C community, as well as treatment by medical professionals. It is evident that from the service provider perspective, it is imperative that we work to come up with solutions to reduce the impact of stigma, particularly in respect to accessing health services.
We are excited to share the full report of this project (as well as a summary version) here.
We look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments as we move forward!