HepConnect begins conversation on how to end hepatitis C

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HepConnect begins conversation on how to end hepatitis C

West Virginia was welcomed into a five-state program Wednesday that is aimed at eradicating Hepatitis C and the disease’s connection to the opioid epidemic.

West Virginia was welcomed into a five-state program Wednesday that is aimed at eradicating Hepatitis C and the disease’s connection to the opioid epidemic.

Gilead Sciences, maker of two Hepatitis C drugs, is working with the national organization, the Harm Reduction Coalition, to carry out the new program dubbed HepConnect.

In doing so, the drug maker’s philanthropic arm is committing $11.2 million for the first year of a five-year program that will be shared among health care providers and related coalitions in Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.

“The Appalachian area has had a 300 percent increase in Hepatitis C virus infection between 2006 and 2012. The impact of the intersection between the opioid crisis and transmission of HCV is just stark in this area. We just believe that this is a great place to show support for people who are being disproportionately impacted by HCV,” said Derek Spencer, executive director of government affairs for Gilead Sciences.

Next month, the Harm Reduction Coalition — which is serving as the behind the scenes grant recipient — will be accepting funding requests from organizations that will be the front line of combat in the opioid epidemic using HepConnect funding.

Spencer said that because no programs have been devised yet, he cannot disclose the exact amount of money West Virginia organizations will have access to in the HepConnect program.

Spencer said HepConnect will take a three-pronged approach to lessen, if not, eliminate Hep C in West Virginia.

Read on: HepConnect begins conversation on how to end hepatitis C

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