#HepCantWait, but the legacy effect of stigma and discrimination ‘doesn’t just go away’

Since late 2019, COVID-19 has been the global health crisis absorbing much of our attention. Efforts to respond to it, including the redeployment of people and resources, have necessarily had impacts on other public health programs and pandemics. The World Health Organization’s ambitious goal to eliminate hepatitis C by 2030 is one program that has been slowed and, in some places, stopped in its tracks by COVID-19.

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Hepatitis C from disability to cure – preliminary findings from ‘speculative legal mapping’

As Australia works towards its ambitious target of reducing hepatitis C stigma by 50% by 2022, it is necessary to investigate and understand the issues that continue to affect people who have – and have been treated for – hepatitis C. One significant example of such issues is the set of laws and policies devised in a pre-cure world that have yet to be reformed since the advent of curative treatments. Do people who had hepatitis C need to disclose this to insurers or prospective employers? And could you be refused employment or insurance on such a basis? Does the fact you once had hepatitis C need to be retained in your medical records? There are literally dozens of questions like these to be asked.

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