Hepatitis C: An In-Depth Guide

 

Getting ready for treatment

Key points

  • Before a person starts treatment, it can be helpful to support them to set up a plan for treatment.
  • Support will be different for every person. It may include a plan for taking treatment every day as prescribed by their healthcare provider and identifying supportive people and other helpful resources.

Managing treatment for hepatitis C is easier when a person’s life is as stable as it can be and they have the support they need. There are a few ways to help a person get ready to start and stay on hepatitis C treatment.

Plan for taking Hep C medications

For many hepatitis C treatments, people need to take one to three pills once per day, while other treatments require taking pills twice per day.

For treatment to effectively cure hepatitis C, it is important that the pills are taken every day for the entire length of treatment, as they were prescribed by the healthcare provider. This is called adherence. Part of getting ready for treatment is ensuring a person has the supports they need to adhere to treatment. It can be helpful to encourage a person about to start treatment to make a plan to stay on top of the treatment regimen. This may include the following suggestions:

  • Choose a convenient time to take the pills every day. Do a “dry run” before starting treatment to identify potential barriers to adherence to treatment. Practise the treatment routine using candies or mints.
  • Get a written copy of the treatment plan. This should include a list of the medications, when to take them and how much to take in a way that is simple to follow.
  • Use a tool to keep track of the pills. For example, use a blister pack, a daily dosage pill container, an app or a diary.
  • Use timers or alarm clocks for a daily reminder to take pills.
  • If available, get daily or weekly dispensing of treatment to help keep track of pills.
  • Identify a support network of family members, friends and service providers who can help with adherence.
  • Talk with other people who have been through or are going through treatment for hepatitis C.

For information on supporting people who are using drugs on hepatitis C treatment, see Supporting people on Hep C treatment who are using drugs.

Mental health, holistic well-being and other supports

Support will be different for every person. Before starting treatment, everyone should be encouraged to talk about their situation with a healthcare provider or support worker they trust.

For example, a person’s mental health or holistic well-being can be supported in these ways:

  • A person can have more frequent check-ins with healthcare providers or support workers.
  • A person can be encouraged to reach out to family and friends or meet with a supportive person regularly.
  • A person can be encouraged to attend a regular group with peers who have hepatitis C and are going through treatment, if available. If a person has access to the Internet, they can also find hepatitis C support groups online.

Access to a multi-disciplinary team made up of nurses, doctors, mental health workers, social workers, outreach workers and people living with hepatitis C can prevent mental health issues from being a barrier to getting through treatment.

Supports may also include helping a person apply for income assistance or housing. Having a safe place to stay can make it easier for a person to keep track of pills and adhere to treatment.

Some people may need help with planning so they can access food or meals on a regular basis. This may be especially important if their treatment should be taken with food.

For information on using drugs and alcohol during treatment, see Safer drug and alcohol use during hepatitis C treatment.

Cost of treatment

For most people, the treatment cost is covered through public health insurance plans (provincial, territorial or federal). For others, if they have a private insurance plan (usually through work) it should cover the cost of treatment.

For information on options to cover the cost of hepatitis C medications, see Treatment coverage in your region.

Resources for service providers

Resources for clients

Revised 2018.