Date of Award

2001

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Lisbeth Pike

Second Advisor

Dr Neil Drew

Abstract

Hepatitis C (HCV) is a blood borne virus that affects the liver. It has become one of the most widespread blood borne viruses in Australia, now reaching epidemic proportions within the population. Given that HCV is a chronic long-term illness, with long term effects, a positive diagnosis potentially impacts on various aspects of' a person's life. The aim of this paper was to review HCV related research to examine what it is like for people living with the virus and the possible personal and social impacts of a positive diagnosis. The nature of HCV, including current incidence and prevalence rates, natural history, transmission and treatment arc discussed. Recent quantitative and qualitative research focusing on the various impacts of hepatitis C and the subsequent effects on quality of life are then critically explored. While formal research in this area is relatively limited, the available evidence suggests that individuals living with HCV experience a wide range of personal and social impacts, resulting in a significant decline in quality of life. The need for further understanding of this serious public health issue is discussed and possible directions for future research are identified. Hepatitis C (HCV) has become one of the most widespread blood borne viruses in many Westernised countries and a positive diagnosis can significantly impact on various aspects of a person's life. Using a systems perspective, the present study aimed to explore the physical, psychological and social impacts of HCV on 12 participants who were living with the virus in Perth, Western Australia. Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted, and content analysis revealed six main themes: finding out; being infectious; disclosure; stigma; symptoms; dealing with it. A comprehensive systems framework is used to understand and explain the impacts of HCV and how these affected participants' quality of life. The findings have implications for providers of health care, helping services, the general community and makers of government policy.

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