Wisconsin has expanded the use of a costly drug to cure inmates of hepatitis C.
While behind bars more than two decades ago, Jerome Dillard agreed to try an experimental treatment for a virus that could destroy his liver. For months, he took a shot in his abdomen every morning and night, and gulped a pill every eight hours.
It didn’t work.
“It just drained me. I had no energy,” recalled Dillard, who completed his prison sentence in 1996 and now advocates on behalf of ex-convicts. “I was not cured in prison, although I do know maybe two people who were cured.”
Modern inmates are more fortunate. Because of advances in medicine and quiet initiatives by state prison officials to expand treatment, scores of inmates are now being cured of hepatitis C every year.
The effort hasn’t been cheap. Wisconsin taxpayers since July have spent $10.4 million on hepatitis C drugs for more than 200 inmates, according to Department of Corrections figures. Just four years ago, the state spent less than $2 million.
Hepatitis C among prisoners has long been of interest to public health officials because inmates have higher rates of infection than the general population and treating them before their release could limit the spread of the disease in communities.
Read full article: Wisconsin prisons spend $10M treating hepatitis C
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