BACKGROUND: Novel health promotion and treatment uptake initiatives will be necessary to ensure Australia meets 2030 hepatitis C elimination targets. Increasing treatment uptake will be assisted by a better understanding of the treatment experience and patient-perceived benefits. This study describes the perceived physical health benefits from direct-acting antiviral (DAA) hepatitis C treatment among people who inject drugs in Melbourne, Australia. METHODS: Twenty participants were recruited from a community treatment trial and community health clinics. Semi-structured interviews were performed with each participant before, during and following treatment. Interviews focused on treatment experiences, attitudes and motivations. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and thematically analysed. RESULTS: Two themes relating to the physical experience of treatment developed; intersection between physical and mental health and “maybe it’s working”. Participants reported various physical benefits, most prominently, reduced fatigue. Reductions in fatigue resulted in instant and meaningful changes in everyday life. Some participants did experience side effects, which they described as mild. Experiencing noticeable physical benefits during treatment was perceived as validation that treatment was working. CONCLUSION: Physical health benefits of DAA treatment may have carry-on effects on cognitive, emotional or social wellbeing and should be incorporated into how treatment is promoted to those who require it.
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