Theme: Social Science & Policy Research Year: 2017
Background: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) affects ~250,000 Canadians; the majority of new cases are among people who inject drugs. Despite recent reductions in new HCV cases, prevalence is increasing in young women. Despite the benefits of HCV care, women continue to be challenged with barriers along the cascade of care and there continues to be significant gaps in the uptake of services.
This presentation will focus on a group of Canadian women’s experience at various points along the HCV cascade of care to identify recommendations that can improve healthcare access and uptake of the new treatments.
Methods: This qualitative study using a narrative methodology, conducted across three Canadian provinces, explored women’s experience of HCV care at various points along the HCV cascade of care. Through purposive sampling, 25 women were recruited and interviewed, the majority were drug dependent.
Results: The analysis revealed three issues related to active substance use that presented complex barriers along the cascade of care: 1) engagement with drugs so not attending to healthcare, 2) response from healthcare providers, and 3) children and family.
Women turned these challenges into motivators and became self-reliant, providing women with a sense of empowerment and confidence. There was a determination to look after themselves which involved attending to their healthcare needs to maintain their health and wellness.
Many of the challenges to accessing HCV care can be turned into enablers that will facilitate greater access and uptake of the new treatments. A more responsive approach from the health system can ensure these complex barriers to care are addressed and women are successfully engaged into care.