There is a CURE for Hep C and treatment is Free in Ireland. Treatment plans can vary for each provider but generally this is the pathway through treatment offered.
What do I need to get treatment?
In order to get treatment in Ireland you need to have certain documentation or fall into one of the:
• PPS number
• Medical Card
• Long Term Illness Card
• Health Amendment Act Card
No matter where you received your diagnosis generally, you will be given a date for the hospital or OST clinic to discuss treatment options. During this appointment, you may have blood taken along with other observational tests such as blood pressure. You may have already had a Fibroscan of your liver if not, you will be given one at this point, see here for more information on the Fibroscan test.
You will then be given a date to come back to start treatment dependent on the results of your blood test.You can still get treatment if you are taking other medication including illegal drugs and alcohol but you must discuss these with your doctor. The risks of these new drugs reacting to other medication is high so it's important all drugs consumed are disclosed.
Following a review of your bloods the doctor in partnership with the prescribing pharmacist will review your current prescribed and non-prescribed medication before providing you with the treatment. Again, honesty is very important here given the risks of interaction with other medication. Medication used for indigestion and herbal remedies can all interact with Hep C drugs.
Usually a nurse will review your treatment progress at various intervals throughout the 8-12 week period, this will depend on where you receive treatment. At these reviews they will discuss the levels of the virus in your blood and any significant changes in the liver.
When you complete treatment you should have a fairly good idea of how the treatment has gone but a period of usually 12 weeks or longer will be required to determine if you are cured. This is often referred to as an SVR.
SVR = A sustained virologic response (SVR) occurs when your blood tests continue to show no detectable trace of the Hep C virus in 12 weeks or more after treatment.
Once you receive you SVR your name will be removed from the active register cataloging those infected with the virus in Ireland. This is an important step which many people forget to receive.
The Impact of current Drug and Alcohol Use
Just to highlight this again currently, non prescribed or illicit drug use is not a barrier to receiving treatment. As long as you can engage with relevant medical or community based organisations regarding treatment you will be treated. Excessively or problematic alcohol use can present a significant barrier to treatment given the damage done to the liver. In these cases, you may be asked to reduce your consumption before treatment is started.