A positive hepatitis C antibody test, although a sign of a serious condition, does not exclude you from living a healthy, happy and productive life. However, proper treatment and care is essential. This article discusses ways of accessing HCV treatment and care as well as additional resources for information on hepatitis C.
It is important that you receive well-informed care and treatment when you are both HIV and HCV positive, as there are additional considerations to think about. If it is possible, seek care from a provider(s) who understand HCV and HIV care and treatment. Since depression is a side effect of HCV therapy and many people living with HIV experience depression, it is important to get an evaluation from a psychologist before starting HCV therapy. Anti-depressant medications may be prescribed if appropriate and can be crucial to successfully coping with HCV therapy.
There are several options available to pay for HCV treatment, as outlined below.
Most private insurers provide coverage for all necessary care and medications.
Medicaid is a federal and state public insurance program for low-income people who meet eligibility requirements. Medicaid programs in every state will cover HCV treatment. However, the enrollment criteria, amount that you pay for prescription drugs, the number of drugs you can get in one month and the requirements to get drugs may differ from state to state.
AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) is a state and federal program that serves people living with HIV who are uninsured or underinsured. Eligibility criteria and formulary vary widely state to state. Ten ADAPs provide access to both ribavirin and peg-interferon hepatitis C therapies. A few of the other state APAPs cover either ribavirin or peg-interferon, but most do not cover either drug.
For more information about the specific state ADAPs and Medicaid programs you can consult The Access Project, run by the AIDS Treatment and Data Network, at www.atdn.org. Your doctor or clinic may also have information about your options for care and treatment coverage.
Patient Assistance Programs
If you are unable to access care through Medicaid, private insurance or ADAP, both the manufacturers of the peg-interferon (Schering-Plough) and ribavirin (Roche Pharmaceuticals) have Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs). PAPs serve people who don't qualify for other coverage and meet the company's income eligibility requirement for free or low cost drugs. For more information about these programs, contact the companies directly. The toll-free number for the Schering-Plough Patient Assistance Program is 1-800-521-7157, for the Roche Patient Assistance Program it is 1-877-757-6243.
For more information about hepatitis C, there are a number of Internet resources available.
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