NT: Why should nurses be concerned about Hepatitis C?
RP: Potentially, they are the kind of people who come into contact with people who are at risk.
There will be people who are at risk who don’t think they need to do anything about it. Nurses are in a position to take histories from patients, assess them, and give appropriate advice and support. A significant proportion of people don’t know they have been infected.
There are also people who have been infected who think that there is nothing they can do about it because they are going to die. These people need to be given advice, support and treatment.
NT: What symptoms should nurses be looking out for?
RP: A lot of people don’t have symptoms. If they are they are vague. For instance they may feel lethargic.
But many of the people at risk are injecting drug users. They might have lethargy for other reasons associated with their lifestyle.
NT: So nurses should be on the look out for people who are in this group, then?
RP: Nurses should make themselves aware of who is at risk. But it can be professional people too. I have seen people who are professional people with families who have put themselves at risk in the past. They may have injected drugs when they were teenagers.
Nurses need to be proactive and ask that person if they wanted to do a test.
NT: How should nurses ask patients about tests?
RP: The test should be done on the basis of informed consent. People should be aware what the test means and what happens at the next stage. People should be aware that there is a treatment and that 55% of people can cured.