Coping with HIV and Hep C: Jamie’s Story
If you’re living with HIV or hepatitis C, reaching out for support can feel like a big step – but with our help, you can learn to manage the conditions and live well. Jamie’s story shows how we can help you find your feet after a new diagnosis, while feeling more able to tackle other challenges in life.
Diagnosed with HIV and Hep C – What Now?
Living with HIV or hepatitis C is a challenge for anyone, no matter what your circumstances in life are. Living with both HIV and hepatitis C means you might need more support to live well with HIV and cure hepatitis C. For people living with both conditions, the impact on your physical and mental health can be significant. It means coping with two diagnoses, having lots of information to take in, many appointments with treatment services and often feeling stigmatised by society. Without support, going through this alone can be an overwhelming and confusing time. That’s why we’re here to support you through it – using our 30 years experience to help you cope.
HIV is a long term condition, and with treatment, you can live long and well. Hepatitis C can be cured with treatment of 8-12 weeks, with little side effects. Jamie’s story shows how we can support you with both diagnoses, no matter what other challenges you’re facing in life.
We first met Jamie in 2017. Referred to us by his care manager, Jamie wanted support with his diagnoses of both HIV and hepatitis C.
While Jamie wanted support, he had a lot going on in his life. He was homeless, in debt, malnourished, struggled with his mental health and used drugs to cope with day to day life. Jamie found it hard to prioritise his health when he had so many worries about meeting his most basic needs like food and shelter.
When we met Jamie, he was already on HIV medication and wanted to start hepatitis C treatment. But because he had so much going on in his life, he was finding it difficult to take his HIV medication every day and missed his appointments for hepatitis C treatment. We knew Jamie needed a lot of support to help him feel ready to take on hepatitis C treatment while also helping him take his HIV medication every day. The challenge though, was Jamie often did not have a mobile phone and did not want any letters sent to his temporary accommodation fearing others might find out he had HIV and hepatitis C. This meant we needed to listen and respond to Jamie’s needs, working closely with his care manager and treatment services to meet him together, in a place he was comfortable talking with us.
Once we began meeting with Jamie, we were able to work alongside his care manager and other support workers helping him manage his debt and maintain his place in temporary accommodation. Being in temporary accommodation, Jamie was able to get three meals a day and with consistent eating was soon feeling a lot better. We also helped Jamie to access a nutritionist and change his HIV treatment regime with his HIV consultant, making it easier to take on a daily basis.
When Jamie felt he was better managing HIV, he was ready to take on hepatitis C treatment. We made sure he could get to the appointments with treatment services, helping him understand the information he was given and make an informed decision on starting treatment. Living with hepatitis C can mean lots of symptoms like memory loss and fatigue. Being there with Jamie at his appointments meant we could help him understand and remember all the information he had to take in. It also meant we could put a plan in place to help Jamie start hepatitis C treatment while continuing to stay well and manage HIV.
With small changes and support, Jamie has been taking his HIV treatment every day for more than six months now. This means he now has an undetectable viral load (U=U). Jamie has also started his hepatitis C treatment and is managing both conditions well with support. Jamie’s next goal is to move into supported accommodation, where he can address his long term mental health conditions in a safe, stable and supportive environment.
Jamie’s story shows that if you’re dealing with lots of challenges in life, as well as living with HIV and hepatitis C, support can help you live well.
“Thank you for all of your support, I wouldn’t have made any of these appointments without it.” – Jamie