In some areas of the country, it’s easier than ever to get tested for hepatitis C.
For the longest time in North Carolina, the prospects of hepatitis C treatment for an injection drug user looked pretty bleak. Few pharmacies sell syringes without a prescription and needle exchange programs were only legalized in July 2016, so contracting hepatitis C is a real risk for people who regularly use syringes. Additionally, because so few drug users have medical insurance, even the remarkable medical advances in hepatitis C treatment over the past couple of years remain out of reach for the population who needs treatment the most. Even those who have insurance are often denied care by medical providers or insurance companies, including Medicaid, that require a period of abstinence from illicit drugs to treat patients for hepatitis C.
But now, thanks to a grant funded by the FOCUS Program of Gilead Sciences and run by the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition (NCHRC), there is finally hope.
Last April, NCHRC launched a new hepatitis C testing and linkage to care program in Greensboro, North Carolina. The program operates primarily in the Urban Survivor’s Union syringe exchange program and offers free HIV and hepatitis C testing services not only to syringe exchange participants, but to other community partners such as people enrolled in methadone clinics and substance use treatment centers. This low-threshold program allows anyone to walk into the exchange and request a test either through a blood draw by a certified phlebotomist or through an oral swab test kit.
“We try to make it easy and comfortable for people to get tested,” says Sonia Watson, the program phlebotomist. “We ask people to fill out a couple of forms and then we draw blood and send it to the lab. We are seeing more participants every day. People are very interested in knowing their status.”
Read full article: Hope for Hepatitis C | HuffPost
|Read Full Article: Hope for Hepatitis C | HuffPost|