The CDC reports people born from 1945–65 (baby boomers) are five times more likely to have hepatitis C (HCV) and account for about 75 percent of people currently infected. But the fact is, anyone can get HCV.
If you have been diagnosed, do not panic. HCV is a curable disease and treating it is relatively simple. It involves taking a pill once a day for eight to 12 weeks. There are minor, if any, side effects. But the pills are expensive and insurance can be complicated.
You should learn as much as you can about the disease and what it can do to your body if you do not get treated. This is what you should be thinking about:
- Do you have a doctor that will treat you?
- How long have you had HCV? Do you have liver damage?
- Do you have insurance that covers you for HCV treatment?
- Will you need help with your copay or deductible?
- Do you have someone to talk to about your disease, treatment, and all that comes with an HCV diagnosis?
Coming a long way
In years past, before there was a cure for HCV, people would seek basic information about the disease, such as “How can I get the disease?” “How was I exposed?” and “Where can I get tested?”
Since the advent of direct-acting antiviral drugs that cure HCV, people have started asking about access to care, including finding a healthcare provider that will treat the disease, and finding financial assistance for the high cost.
To find answers to these questions, the following resources can offer assistance:
- Gilead Support Path: Can help patients get started with treatments. Call 1-855-769-7284 to connect with a Support Path program navigator.
- AbbVie Patient Assistance Program: Provides free AbbVie medicine to qualifying patients. Call 800-222-6885.
- Help-4-Hep: A program of Hepatitis C Association. Callers talk one-to-one with a real person, usually someone who has had HCV. Callers are provided with information and resources for testing, treatment, financial assistance, and, in many cases, simply someone to talk to who understands the challenges of HCV. Call 877-435-7443
Just the facts
Should you reach out for assistance? Here are some statistics about those who seek information about hepatitis:
- Seventy percent of those who reach out are baby-boomers.
- Half identify as women.
- Approximately 40 percent of those who reach out have tested positive for the first antibody test for HCV. They need a confirmative HCV/RNA (viral load) test. Only 15-17 percent of first-time callers have already had this test, which means they should seek treatment.
- Approximately 65 percent of callers reported they have insurance. Of those, about 35 percent have private insurance, about 45 percent have Medicare, and 20-25 percent are on Medicaid.
If you have or think you have hepatitis C, seek help. Call your healthcare provider. If you don’t have a regular doctor, call one of the resources listed above for a recommendation, or assistance, or just to have someone to talk to about hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C can be cured! Do the right thing: get treated.