More than 3.5 million Americans are living with hepatitis C virus (HCV), making it the most common chronic bloodborne infection in the United States. Yet with approximately half of HCV-positive individuals unaware they are infected, HCV presents significant challenges to public health and health care systems. The HCV epidemic is especially acute among two populations: Baby Boomers (those born between 1945 and 1965), many of whom are unaware they are infected and who have high rates of chronic HCV infection; and people who inject drugs, notably young people using opioids, who are experiencing dramatic increases in the rates of new and acute HCV infections, as well as co-infection with HIV.
Factors defining the large and growing HCV-positive or at-risk populations – each having different demographic profiles, access points to health care and prevention efforts, behavioral risk factors, and geographic distributions – complicate HCV testing, linkage to care, treatment, and harm reduction efforts. Barriers to these services and efforts also arise from problematic insurance and state Medicaid restrictions that limit the type of provider who can prescribe new, curative treatments for HCV, and that impose drug and alcohol abstinence and advanced liver disease requirements to be met before covering treatment, counter to treatment guidelines and evidence.
To increase local capacity to provide cross-continuum care to communities burdened by HCV, NACCHO has developed a comprehensive educational series for local health departments. Follow the links below to learn more about and access these resources.