Beyond a post-cure world

We are excited to announce the publication of the first article from the project, ‘Addressing hepatitis C–related legal, policy and practice discrimination in a post-cure world’.

Authored by GLaD program lead Kate Seear with project collaborators Suzanne Fraser, Adrian Farrugia and kylie valentine, the article offers preliminary insights from the ARC-funded study on ‘post-cure’ lives and introduces a vision for a ‘futurology’ of hepatitis C.

Published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, the article places critical pressure on the language of optimism and ‘revolutionary’ transformation surrounding Australia’s recent introduction of direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) to treat hepatitis C. It argues that heightened expectations about post-cure lives can create an over-emphasis on the power of medicine through the promise of a revolutionary new ‘future’ that overlooks the complexities of living with and managing hepatitis C in the present. While new treatments are welcome, medical cure alone is unlikely to reverse the entrenched social, political and structural dynamics that drive infections and limit service access. The emphasis on and optimism about cure in current hepatitis C policy, practice and research places us at risk of overlooking the legacy of laws and policies devised in a pre-cure world and their role in subjecting those who have had hepatitis C to ongoing stigma and discrimination post-cure.

The essay identifies and problematises current thinking about cure and post-cure and introduces a new approach to thinking about a ‘futurology’ of hepatitis C, designed to counter simple assumptions about scientific transformation and to move beyond the temporal logic of cure/post-cure. Our futurology is inspired by the work of Marco Cuevas-Hewitt on the ‘futurology of the present’, which tempers expectations of revolution and reform by remaining attentive to multiplicities of becoming in the perpetual present. We suggest that this new critical approach to hepatitis C futures offers a framework for thinking, researching, writing about and otherwise engaging with hepatitis C, characterised by attention not to what an imagined, singular future might look like, or to assumptions about treatment as revolutionary, but to what Cuevas-Hewitt calls the multiple ‘perpetual presents’ already with us.

Citation: Seear, K, Fraser, S, Farrugia, A, valentine, k (2021) ‘Beyond a ‘post-cure’ world: Sketches for a new futurology of hepatitis C’, International Journal of Drug Policy 94