Ok people. Here are a few of my learnings from yesterday’s HEP C and CHEM SEX discussion with 56 Dean Street‘s Wellbeing Program. It was primarily for Health Care Advisors, Sexual Health/Substance Professionals, Councillors and associated Charities. It was however an invaluable few hours of education for me and I think more of these kinds of events should be made available to and ATTENDED by you guys (I include myself in the ‘you guys’ bracket). It seems simple but to state it – if we are not educated and clued up on something how can we hope to navigate our way through it or around it? HEP C is undoubtably about to take it’s place up there in the same league as HIV through new infections and it’s impending visibility. In saying that – the session was not a doom and gloom affair…in fact I left feeling quite invigorated and optimistic…So don’t panic! LOL And credit where credit is due – David Stuart somehow managed to put his unique stamp on delivering this session with humour, passion and a sense that he really cares about what we face and how himself and 56 Dean Street can best help. Thank you David and thanks for taking the time to give me a mini de-brief on yesterday’s event.
Greg Owen: I learned a lot. And a few key points were flagged up. Primarily awareness, education and de-stigmatisation of Hep C. I also think clearly outlining the list of ACTUAL side effects from the current and new treatments (via patient testimonials) would be really beneficial
David Stuart: The testimonials that patients who spoke yesterday gave re HCV treatment side-effects were both regarding currently available treatments; the new treatments have very few side effects, and seem to be experienced favourably on the whole.
Greg Owen: Great. I will work on the issue of the lack of support that HEP C is being offered from HIV activists as we are yet to see the rise of a substantial HEP C activist group – understandably.
The key points from the session from my understanding are
- Get tested
- If positive – Get treated as per your healthcare team’s suggestions. Seek advice from the NHS and your community
- If positive or negative – Get informed – HEP C is not just for “drug injectors and sluts”
- Get talking
- And most importantly – BE KIND!
David Stuart: Yes, that’s right. Get informed – HEP C is not just for “drug injectors and sluts”… And most importantly, BE KIND! – I love this.
Despite the activism, and anger you heard last night, things are not as bad as some believe. The new medicines are very new, and are currently made available to those very very ill with liver damage from hep C; as it should be. You always start with those dying first. And productive discussions are underway to make new medicines available to those not in mortal danger, for Treatment As Prevention; it just may take some months. Some noise/blogs/social media chatter absolutely helps. Times have changed also; new activism now involves engaging people in dialogue, (like Pat Cash’s Let’s talk about Gay Sex & Drugs, etc), shedding the anger and finding creative, persuasive routes of communication. That’s the activism that I’m able to practice within the NHS.
Greg Owen: Thanks David. I look forward to catching up with you again soon.
Over and Out…
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