(Treloar & Rhodes, The Lived Experience of Hepatitis C and its Treatment Among Injecting Drug Users: Qualitative Synthesis, 2009), defines HCV as a liver disease caused by hepatitis C virus. Hepatitis C virus is blood-borne. In the initial stages, hepatitis C doesn’t have noticeable symptoms but after several years the liver is damaged, and symptoms start occurring. There is a loss of appetite, fatigue, nausea, jaundice, and stomach pain. The incubation period for hepatitis C disease is two weeks to six months. The first case of hepatitis C was reported in the 1970s. Currently, over 200 million people are infected with hepatitis C, and this constitutes to 3.3% of the world’s population which is a rise from 143 million people in 2015 (Kaslow, Stanberry, & Duc, 2014). Its occurrence is mostly in Central and East Asia and Africa. In 2015, about 167,000 people died from liver cancer and 326,000 from cirrhosis due to hepatitis C. In the journal (Sgorbini, O’Brien, & Jackson, 2009) it is unclear how 15%-25% of the people infected can clear the virus from their bodies without treatment. Once daily pill which is known as Zepatier was approved in January 2016 and its effectiveness is approximately 100%. There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C.
Aboriginal people, especially in Australia, face various challenges when living with hepatitis C. Discovery of Hepatitis raises stigma and shame about how the virus was transmitted. Stigma plays a role when the victims try to disclose their status to the community, family, or health workers at diagnosis. Stigma makes individuals unable to seek health (Treloar, et al., 2016). Shame makes the victims to be cut off from communal and family duties leading to loneliness and being cut from normal activities. Low income and poverty also affect aboriginal community prevalence and response to hepatitis C. It is estimated that the lifetime medical care of a person living with HCV cost around $46 600.The cost is extremely high for uneducated indigenous people. Many of the aboriginals acquire the HCV through sharing of needles drug injection which is a common practice among the aboriginal people in Australia. It is estimated that over half (57.5%) of those living with hepatitis C in Australia acquired the disease through injecting the drug (Hopwood, Treloar, & Bryant, 2006). It is also evident that most of the Aboriginal people are not aware of the existence of the HCV disease. The Aboriginal people suffering from HCV also are unwilling to seek medical treatment. The unwillingness is brought by high competition in the attempt of accessing health facilities in the treatment of HCV. They also have limited knowledge of HCV and the available treatment. Additionally, the aboriginal people may be not psychologically ready to go through relatively arduous nature of Hepatitis C treatment. Aboriginal people living with HCV have shown poor communication especially during diagnosis of the disease. Those diagnosed at organizational setting tend to have poorer communication compared to those attended by family doctors (LauraE.Dowsett, StephanieCoward, DianeL.Lorenzetti, GailMacKean, & FionaClement, 2017). Poor communication is as a result psychological side effects such as mood swing or irritability.
Healthcare experiences and challenges of stigma on HCV patients.
Patients suffering from hepatitis C suffer discrimination even from the health care officers. Due to this, they face numerous physical challenges such as weight loss. Body weakening is also evident with the patient being forced to take certain food. Patients become isolated. Isolations limit the contact with people who could offer physical assistance, and the recovery of the patients becomes next to impossible. Doctors find it challenging to offer medical assistance to this kind of people as they are aggressive and some have physical body weaknesses. Due to stigma and lack of attention, people suffering from chronic hepatitis C feel judged or shunned. Most of the time the doctors and nurses concentrate more in attending HCV patient illness and ignoring the guidance and emotional support towards the patients hence making them feel less valued or cared upon (CarlaTreloar, JakeRance, & MarkusBackmund, 2014).
Low income and poverty
Aboriginal people are poor making it hard for them to have blood nutrition during the sickness period. Their body becomes weak and prone to other diseases. Their families are also encouraged to shun away from them. Research has found that most of the Aboriginal patients opt to commit suicide due to poverty and hardship in controlling the disease (Galanti, 2014). The patients also shy away from seeking medical attention from developed centers in fear of high charges.
Drug abuse is rampant among the aboriginal Australians. Apart from alcoholism due to depression, they also abuse drug through injection. The victims seek solace through drug abuse as they see it as means of managing stress. Through injection, they expose themselves to other blood transmitted diseases like NHIV increasing the chances of weakening the body more (Kaslow, Stanberry, & Duc, 2014).
Challenges and effects of unwillingness to seek treatment
Due to the unwillingness of seeking medical care by Aboriginal patients, hepatitis C develop quickly in their body becoming hard to control. The patients are faced with the dangers of acquiring the liver disease. The disease becomes chronic before the patients seek medical attention. The patients have reported and shown to be emotionally affected once the disease reaches late stages. The patients become depressed and unable to follow their normal schedule. The hepatitis C patients sometimes feel worthlessness and guilt especially if they acquired the virus through avoidable circumstance. They also suffer from disturbed sleep patterns and changes in psychomotor activity. Depressed patients lack the ability to concentrate or make a decision, and they also suffer from fatigue or body loss as a result of thoughts (McGovern, 2015).
Poor communication with people and health officers.
During diagnosis, the patients tend to hold information about how they acquired the virus. Health officers find it hard to assist this kind of patients. Some of the patients also hold information from their friend and relatives. This kind of patients mostly develops psychosocial problems, where some become mentally ill. The disease overcome them, and they end up being affected by numerous health problems, and they face a danger of early death (Brener, et al., 2016).
Through the article, it is evident that the patients living with Hepatitis C often feel unsupported in their care, stigmatized, and discriminated in relationships and at workplaces. They are continuously trying to cope with psychological, physical and personal symptoms of the illness. It is of great value to encourage the patients to live in healthy lifestyle such as engaging in body exercise. Exercise is key in reducing depression and anxiety which are as a result of hepatitis C. It is also necessary to treat all the patients equal, especially the aboriginal people, to make them appreciated. Equal treatment will strengthen their desire to seek medical attention. They should also be educated on the existence of the disease to increase the number of people who seek early medical attention. As a nurse, I am more motivated to undertake psychology courses to improve in the way of handling the patients of hepatitis especially those who have undergone through stigmatization and self-blame towards getting infected with the virus. It is necessary also to be more patient with the patients and encouraging them as they go through the process of medication in the hospitals. I am motivated to encourage fellow nurses to come up with the hospital to hospital mentor program where we will enlighten the young nurses on the need to take care of the patients as a way to make those suffering from the chronical disease to feel appreciated. Accumulation of hopefulness about the successful diagnosis of HCV, the patient, naturally and automatically improves on the emotional scale due to the reduction of negative thoughts and ends up getting away from depression (McGovern, 2015).
Brener, L., Wilson, H., Jackson, L. C., Johnson, P., Saunders, V., & Treloar, C. (2016). Experiences of diagnosis, care, and treatment among Aboriginal people living with hepatitis. Indigenous Health, 62.
CarlaTreloar, JakeRance, & MarkusBackmund. (2014). Understanding Barriers to Hepatitis C Virus Care and Stigmatization From a Social Perspective. Supplement Article, 52.
Galanti, G.-A. (2014). Caring for Patients from Different Cultures. London: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Hopwood, M., Treloar, C., & Bryant, J. (2006). Drugs: education, prevention, and policy. Hepatitis C and injecting-related discrimination in New South Wales, Australia, 61-75.
Kaslow, R. A., Stanberry, L. R., & Duc, J. W. (2014). Viral Infections of Humans: Epidemiology and Control. London: Springer.
LauraE.Dowsett, StephanieCoward, DianeL.Lorenzetti, GailMacKean, & FionaClement. (2017). Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Living with Hepatitis C Virus: A Systematic Review and Narrative Synthesis of Qualitative Literature, 11.
McGovern, B. (2015). Care of the Patient with Hepatitis C Virus Infection, An Issue of Infectious Disease Clinics. Chicago: Elsevier Health Sciences.
Sgorbini, M., O’Brien, L., & Jackson, D. (2009). Living with hepatitis C and treatment: the personal experiences of patients. Patients Perspective, 2282.
Treloar, C., & Rhodes, T. (2009). The Lived Experience of Hepatitis C and its Treatment Among Injecting Drug Users: Qualitative Synthesis. Qualitative Health Research, 1321-1334.
Treloar, C., Jackson, L. C., Gray, R., Newland, J., Wilson, H., Saunders, V., . . . Brener, L. (2016). Multiple stigmas, shame, and historical trauma compound the experience of Aboriginal Australians living with Hepatitis C. Health Sociology Review, 23.