Inside the Lived Experience

A report back on Kurt Brereton's session: Inside the Lived Experience delivered at the Treating Hepatitis C in General Practice Forum

Kurt is a man who has had Hep C contracted, many years ago, in his youth.  He outlined his journey and provided insight into his feelings and treatment by others particularly health professionals and provided advice and ideas on how to interact with people who are at risk or do carry Hep C.

I was surprised to learn that the immediate and ongoing outcome of finding out he had Hep C and was incurable ( at that time, in the past) was strong, overwhelming and ongoing post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  He told us he felt ostracised, and like he has cancer and this was a life sentence.  He also felt judged and as if others considered him unreliable and a loose canon who could not be trusted.

He suggested that movies such as the Dallas Buyers Club and other publicly seen stories, and public discussions, incuding in schools, and treating it like any other disease  could really help to normalise the whole area of viral hepatitis. He advised that GPs discuss both testing and diagnosis in a positive way and definitely de-emphasise how the infection had been contracted.  Better to focus on finding it, treating it and then reducing chances of spreading it or recontracting an infection by open disussion of risk factors.

I willl find this very helpful in GP when I have patients who may have or do have viral hepatitis, in particular when consulting with those who have been living with it for many decades and are only just finding out and being offered treatment.

Author bio: I have worked in General practice in Launceston, Tasmania for 25 years.  I love Tasmania for its greenness and the amazing scenery and places to walk and explore. I enjoy the breadth of GP presentations and continually try to provide the best care for anyone who sees me by not judging them and trying to make them feel comfortable that I have their concerns and needs front and centre in the treatment plan.