Coping with Coinfection | Page 3

For hepatitis C virus patients coinfected with HIV, the everyday challenges of managing their condition are amplified.
“Disclosure is huge,” he said. “Some can accept you, others can’t. I’ve been so fortunate to have found people who accept me.”

Surprisingly, Farnworth noted his patients found the stigma with HCV to be even greater than that of HIV.

“Patients that I see do experience a lot of stigma when they become diagnosed with HCV,” he said. “Many patients who have coped very well with their HIV diagnosis become very depressed and isolated as, particularly in the gay community, HCV has become the ‘new HIV.’ Many of my patients describe feeling dirty and want to be treated as soon as possible so that they can get rid of the HCV.”

Farnworth said the years during and after treatment can see patients making dramatic, rewarding changes in their lives, not just in their health but in their personal and professional lives, embarking on a new career or making other life changes.

“I think one of the best things about my job is seeing very positive changes that patients make in their lives whilst going through treatment. For example, stopping smoking, drinking or recreational drugs,” he said. “I am always struck by how patients turn something as dark as a hepatitis C diagnosis and treatment into something so positive and life-affirming.”

Copeland said he’s also hopeful that new research will find ways to treat HIV as effectively as HCV. Until that day arrives, he emphasized the importance of perseverance for patients facing the added challenge of living with two debilitating conditions.

“Don’t give up hope,” he said. “Don’t give up on yourself. That mental attitude is very important with coinfection.”

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