Who is Terence?
Terence lives with his partner and two stepchildren, and is expecting the birth of another child soon. He lives in a regional centre in Victoria, Australia, and works in the alcohol and other drug sector. He describes his ethnic background as ‘Australian’: like both of his parents, Terence was born in Australia. He says that after completing treatment for hepatitis C in 2016, he felt ‘emotionally better’ and experienced the lifting of ‘huge emotional baggage’.
Terence was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 2016 after leaving prison. He was disappointed with the diagnosis as he felt that other parts of his life were steadily improving at the time. After being referred to a specialist by his GP, Terence started the new treatment and was cured of the virus in about eight weeks.
In 2016 he was diagnosed with hepatitis C after facilitators at a ‘rehabilitation program’ he was attending encouraged him to see a doctor. Being ‘in and out of the doctor’s all the time’, a GP suggested that he do a ‘blood-borne virus test for HIV, hep C, hep B and that sort of stuff’. He recalls that a ‘few weeks’ after the tests, he found out that ‘all was clear except the hepatitis C’. He remembers feeling ‘disappointed’ at that time because he had begun to get his ‘life together’ and ‘things were starting to look good’.
According to Terence, his doctor was ‘fantastic’. While he only provided ‘limited information’ on the new medications that had recently become available, because ‘he didn’t actually know a lot about’ them, he referred Terence to a specialist. Terence recalls there was lot of excitement about the ‘new treatments on the horizon’.
After meeting the specialist, Terence started treatment and remembers that it didn’t change his daily routines very much. The only change that he can ‘really remember was […] taking medication with tea’. As he explains, ‘After a couple of weeks, it just sort of became second nature’. He says, ‘I set an alarm for six o’clock and […] had to take two lots of medication. I’d sit that on the table, I’d cook dinner, I’d eat half my dinner and then I would take the medication and then eat the other half of dinner’.
Repeat testing was part of his treatment experience. Before starting treatment, he had a test that, like his initial test while in the rehabilitation program, ‘came back positive’. He was ‘on medication for 12 weeks’ and did another test at ‘about the eight-week mark’, which showed that he had been cured. He remembers that he did a further test when he finished treatment, and again 12 months later, both of which indicating he was clear. For Terence, it was a ‘surprise’ that the treatment seemed to have ‘no side effects whatsoever’, so he couldn’t tell if ‘anything was happening’.
According to Terence, being cured of hepatitis C was a relief as he viewed his treatment as a ‘life and death issue’. As he explains, he thought at the time, ‘[If] I don’t rid myself of this virus, I will die 10, 15, 20 years before I have to’.
Reflecting on his treatment experience, Terence says that he feels ‘emotionally better’. While curing hepatitis C was only one of ‘a lot of [positive] changes in lifestyle’ that were occurring at the time, he felt his ‘huge emotional baggage lifted’ when he was of cured the virus.
Terence (M, 34, experience with new treatment [DAAs]) explains that the doctor informed him about the new treatment at the same time as delivering his results.
So, at the time, I was going through a rehabilitation program, and I was encouraged by the facilitators to go and book in and see a doctor. So I did that, and I went on some alcohol withdrawal medication and some stuff and, you know, I was in and out of the doctor’s all the time, and the doctor said, ‘It’s been a while since we’ve done a blood-borne virus test’ for HIV, hep C, hep B and that sort of stuff. So I did the test, and I went back to see the doctor a few weeks later. [They] said, ‘Okay, well you know all was clear except the hepatitis C’, which I can remember I was a little bit disappointed about, but the doctor said, ‘There’s some new medication now’ […] And then, yeah, the doctor put me on the new medication, and at the time I was within the first lot of people in this area to be prescribed that medication.
As Terence (M, 34, experience with new treatment [DAAs]) explains, while friends can be supportive, some people weren’t enthusiastic about the prospect of hepatitis C tests and treatment.
I told friends of mine [about my hepatitis C and treatment…] Yeah, my friend was really supportive, and I spoke to someone who I used to inject drugs with and sort of said that ‘I tested positive for hepatitis C and, you know, I’m not able to definitively pinpoint the origin of it, but I think it’s a good idea [for you] to get tested [too].’ Yeah, they sort of weren’t too keen on the idea.
Terence (M, 34, experience with new treatment [DAAs]) explains that while being cured had a positive impact, it occurred at the same time as a series of other positive shifts in his life.
I suppose emotionally I felt better [once I was cured]. Physically, I would probably say yes, that [the cure] contributed [positively], but I was going through a lot of changes in lifestyle as well at the time. Yeah, when I [was cured of] the virus, that was a huge emotional baggage lifted from my shoulders […I also] probably just start[ed] to make better choices in life. Yeah, that’s about it really […] I decided to go and study instead of work. Typically, I’d worked in the meat industry and labouring and stuff like that, so yeah, it was pretty big for me. I didn’t really go to high school, probably got a Year 7 education, and I decided around that time in my life that education was something that I wanted to pursue, so yeah, I signed up for a course at university.