Hepatitis C Care: Check Your Biases at the Door

International Conference on Viral Hepatitis (ICVH) 2014

Helen-Maria Lekas, PhD; Gloria J. Searson, MSW; Alyson L. Harty, RN, BSN; William Thompson


June 23, 2014

In This Article

Improving on the HIV Model for Hepatitis C

Dr. Lekas: Would you propose a team-based approach for hepatitis C, like that for HIV, with a provider, a medical physician, and a nurse?

Ms. Harty: We need a lot more funding for that. Personally, working in a private office, I know that we don't have the funds to hire a psychiatrist. I am the social worker, psychiatrist, and nurse -- all of the above. It takes a lot of manpower to put people through this therapy, and the providers also need more support from the states and the private insurers who don't pay for psychological therapy unless the patient has Medicaid and can access a therapist. It is very hard for privately insured people to get the psychological therapy that they need.

Dr. Lekas: Do you think the HIV model is a good one?

Ms. Harty: Definitely.

Ms. Searson: Yes, especially because this is a complicated thing to explain, and you want to have people you can trust, like we have with case managers in HIV. But here is one thing I would like to see be different from the HIV model: We did not bring the case managers along in the science, so they were not able to offer the support to patients around understanding the disease and the importance of medication, because they were left out of the education. If you create a team, then all of them have to have the necessary information. In HIV, that is where we made some missteps; we kept the science separated from the prevention and services, and there was no interaction. The patient was better known by the people who knew the least about the disease itself and the benefits of treatment. Without that knowledge, how could those who have the confidence of the patient convince the patient of the importance of being treated? That is why we have people who are still not detectable, as well as the continuing struggles of being on multiple regimens, because the patients didn't get buy-in from the people that they trust.

Mr. Thompson: At the facility that I go to, Mount Sinai, the doctors work as a team. They all discuss the patient and reach a conclusion about where they are going with the patient and what their expected results are. They are very informative. I didn't know that I had stage 4 cirrhosis or that it could be stabilized. To me, stage 4 meant I was going to continue to decline. I didn't know that the liver repairs itself, and that with the elimination of the HCV infection the liver can regroup and reverse, to a point -- it's not going to be a completely healthy liver again. But I learned all of this from the doctors and the team where I get care. How well the doctors work together depends on the facility that you go to.

Dr. Lekas: With the massive restructuring of our healthcare system, this is a good note to end on. How HCV treatment will be integrated into this restructuring is an important issue. Thank you all.


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