David’s Story: Harm Reduction Saves Lives


Blog Subjects


I knew from the very beginning that I would eventually get Hep C. I wasn’t in a position to look
after my health or safety, having to find used needles on the ground and clean them out with
soap and water. Had I had access to proper supplies this wouldn’t have happened. I remember
the moment I found out I had it. I was sharing needles with a friend and he mentioned he was
positive to a paramedic who was narcanning his brother. At the time I was numb and couldn’t
begin to emotionally or mentally process that I was most likely positive.

A few years later my life had spiraled out of control and I knew that if I didn’t do something I
would absolutely die. My HCV status was one of the last major roadblocks from my past. I had
known there were cures for Hepatitis C but not much beyond that. The more positive changes I
achieved, the more important getting my hepatitis treated became. I had ACCCHS at the time
and I went in and had all the proper blood tests done. Unfortunately at the time ACCCHS had
stringent criteria to be treated. The barriers were high and only those with high fibrosis scores
and months of abstinence could be approved. I didn’t not meet the requirements. Treatment via
this avenue was a bust. That was extremely depressing, especially since it was only because of
corporate greed and stigma against drug users.

Getting treatment was starting to look more and more like it was not going to happen, given the
out of pockets cost of more than $50,000. Being a construction worker, I could never afford that
price tag. It didn’t look like I’d ever be cured, and I had given up all hope for finding a cure when
a life line was thrown in my lap. A friend told me about an underground medication sharing
network, similar to the Dallas buyers’ club, but free. Generic DAA’s shipped directly to your
door! It took some time for me to be convinced it wasn’t a scam. I found out later these were just
other folks who had HCV, who used drugs and who thought the barriers were too high. They
had figured out a way to get medication, and then distribute it to those who were abandoned by
the medical system.

After a month or so I received the pills in the mail. I thought maybe they were fake, this just
seemed too good to be true, but after taking them for a month I tested again and no virus was
detected. I took it the full 90 days and have taken multiple tests since then and I’ve always
tested SVR. What a blessing it was finding out about these harm reduction networks!! Getting
my life together is the best thing I’ve ever done. And I could not have done it without mutual aid
and the harm reduction community.

With a price tag of around $50,000, not many Americans can afford treatment without
insurance. And insurance companies, and AHCCCS, still have too many barriers to treatment. I
was forced to break the law just to obtain life saving medications. The barriers to access these
medications are much too high. I hope together we can work to make them accessible for

You May Also Like…

HIV, HCV & STI Symposium

January 2023 Join us for Arizona's annual HIV, HCV, & STI Symposium! This year's event will be held in-person, and...

Kristen’s Story: Stop the Stigma

I contracted Hep-C more than likely from intravenous drug use sometime in my early twenties. I had thought that bleach...