1Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital, Bedford, MA, USA; Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA firstname.lastname@example.org.
2Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital, Bedford, MA, USA; Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.
Antiviral treatment for hepatitis C is usually difficult, demanding, and debilitating and has long offered modest prospects of successful cure. Most people who may need treatment have faced stigma of an illness associated with drug and alcohol misuse and thus may be deemed poor candidates for treatment, while completing a course of treatment typically calls for resolve and responsibility. Patients' efforts and their reasons for completing treatment have received scant attention in hepatitis C clinical policy discourse that instead focuses on problems of adherence and patients' expected failures. Thus, we conducted qualitative interviews with patients who had recently undertaken treatment to explore their reasons for completing antiviral treatment. Analysis of their narrative accounts identified four principal reasons: cure the infection, avoid a bad end, demonstrate the virtue of perseverance through a personal trial, and achieve personal rehabilitation. Their reasons reflect moral rationales that mark the social discredit ascribed to the infection and may represent efforts to restore creditable social membership. Their reasons may also reflect the selection processes that render some of the infected as good candidates for treatment, while excluding others. Explication of the moral context of treatment may identify opportunities to support patients' efforts in completing treatment, as well as illuminate the choices people with hepatitis C make about engaging in care.