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  1. Cormier, Maureen MSN, NP, CCRC


Chronic hepatitis C infection has become the most common blood-borne pathogen in the United States, affecting an estimated 4 million Americans. The diagnosis of chronic hepatitis C carries with it threats to quality of life and life expectancy. Furthermore, the label of chronic hepatitis C encumbers the individual with concerns about contagiousness, social isolation, altered role function, stigmatization, loss of control, and the uncertainty and anxiety inherent in any chronic illness. These factors have a significant emotional effect on the affected individual and his or her family. Although biomedical research continues to seek new therapies for hepatitic C virus and methods of prevention and control, our health and social systems also must develop strategies to facilitate adjustment, provide education and caring, and enhance well-being. Abundant research supports the premise that social support facilitates patient well-being and contributes to health and health promotion through interpersonal interactions. Gastroenterology nurses are well positioned to facilitate improved outcomes in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus by initiating interventions designed to enhance existing sources of social support or to promote new ones. Development of psychosocial interventions, such as support groups, aimed at maintaining or fostering social support, may improve health outcomes and promote a higher health-related quality of life for persons living with chronic hepatitis C virus.