An Overview of the War On Hepatitis C in San Francisco

After a trustworthy cure for Hepatitis C was introduced a few years ago, San Francisco has embarked on a campaign to eliminate it completely. This elimination campaign is built on shrewd epidemiology and shoe leather to get rid of the virus. A number of health workers will expand testing and going out to look for homeless patients who forget their medication. More doctors are being trained by clinicians on how best to treat any associated infections and patients will be able to keep their medications at syringe exchanges.Combating a Growing and Pressing ProblemAll the efforts above are aimed at combating a growing and pressing problem as a high number of deaths are linked to Hepatitis C, which can cause liver failure and cancer. Hepatitis C has claimed more lives than 60 combined existing communicable diseases including tuberculosis and HIV. Before the current hepatitis C drugs, which have a high effective rate of curing the disease, were developed the thought of eradication was improbable. However, the hepatitis C virus is currently being fueled by the use of drugs and hitting patients who are difficult to reach. These patients have limited access to proper care and the pricey medications used to treat the virus as a majority of them are either incarcerated, homeless or mentally ill.End Hep C SFAccording to Katie Burk, the public health department's viral hepatitis coordinator in the city, the problem is not in the taking of the medication rather the challenge is in getting them there. This group requires to be taken through a number of hoops to get them through and that takes a great deal of work. Katie Burk added that a few people are still getting infected but she sees the possibility of turning that curve around by ensuring that the number of people being cured exceeds those getting infected. The campaign in San Francisco dubbed End Hep C SF, is a joint effort of hospitals, health officials, advocates as well as clinicians who came together to battle the stigma associated with Hepatitis C. the campaign seeks to cobble up funding and coordinate care to beat the stigma that this disease is associated with unsafe sex, drug use and prison.The campaign organizers agree that they have managed to eradicate the disease within the city, but there are fears that it might reappear. The campaign is aimed at becoming a model for what total elimination means and what it would entail elsewhere. In California, from 2007 -2015 the infection rates showed a 55% increase among men and 37% among women, both in their 20s. [Read More…]



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