How I Found Treatment for Hepatitis C
Imagine being told you have a disease that kills hundreds of thousands of people globally every year. Now imagine being unable to access treatment due to the $60,000 price tag. That is exactly what happened to me. This is my journey through Hepatitis C.
I made an appointment with a gastroenterologist (digestive doctor) after being diagnosed with chronic Hep C. The doctor drew blood and told me my genotype and the extent of the infection. Luckily, I caught my case early on. Unluckily, because it was so early, I was denied treatment through my medicaid company. My doctor and I worked together to apply for treatment several times over a three-year period. But the law stood in our way.
At the time, treatment laws in Kentucky were based on severity. You had to be at death's door to be approved. Which didn't make much sense to me. If doctors could prevent the disease from reaching that point, why wouldn't they want to do that? I remember pleading my case on the phone to my insurance company over and over. The treatment was so expensive, I had no other choice. Each time we spoke, they said it was too early.
In early 2018 I found a new doctor with hopes of improving my luck seeking treatment. And I found out the laws regarding who could receive treatment changed. You no longer had to be in the end stages of liver scarring. After applying for treatment for the fourth time, I was finally accepted!
For eight weeks I took three pills of an antiviral medication called Mavyret. The only side effects I noticed were fatigue and headaches. By the time I was four weeks in, my viral levels were already undetectable. My body was reacting well to the medication, and upon reaching week eight, the virus was still undetectable. However, to be considered “cured,” a person must be virus-free for six months after treatment has stopped.
Today, three months post treatment, I am still virus free! I still have three months to go until I am officially cured, but I feel confident that with my newly adopted diet and healthier lifestyle that I will beat this disease.
My purpose for writing this is to give hope to anyone who has been told they have chronic Hepatitis C and don’t know where to turn. It can be scary, confusing and frustrating to be diagnosed and then forced to navigate through treatment options. My advice to anyone who may be at risk — go get tested. And to anyone who has been diagnosed and can’t find treatment, keep fighting! It's your health and your life. No one will fight harder than you!.
To get tested for Hep C and other infectious diseases, contact Cincinnati’s Exchange Project (CEP), your primary care doctor or one of our healthcare resources. To learn more about CEP’s mobile needle exchange, read the next article, “Photo Story: What to Expect at a Syringe Exchange.”
Cincinnati’s Exchange Project, (513) 316-7725