OIDP Awards $450,000 to Cherokee Nation to Implement Hepatitis C Linkage to Care Program

Content From: Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesPublished: October 05, 20232 min read


OASH Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy

The HHS Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy is pleased to announce the awarding of $450,000 to the Cherokee Nation through the Evaluation of Linkage to Care Programs in Support of Hepatitis C Elimination cooperative agreement. This three-year program aims to implement and evaluate hepatitis C community navigation and linkage to care interventions to improve hepatitis C treatment rates, reduce transmission, reduce hepatitis C disparities, and reduce hepatitis C-related liver cancer and deaths.

Cherokee Nation’s HCV Engagement and Linkage Program (HELP) initiative’s overall goal is to increase access to HCV health care among American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) people within the Cherokee Nation Reservation in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. With the OIDP funding, this program will collaborate with four community-based programs to screen AI/AN people who receive services for substance use disorders and housing insecurities. Community program staff will provide rapid hepatitis C, HIV, and syphilis testing and link patients found positive for any condition to care.

Linkage to care connects HCV-positive individuals to appropriate HCV care. Patient navigation and peer support can promote timely linkage to hepatitis C care and improve hepatitis C outcomes in settings that serve populations with higher rates of hepatitis C, such as opioid treatment clinics, harm reduction programs, or outpatient clinics for people who inject drugs.

To eliminate hepatitis C in the U.S., the Viral Hepatitis National Strategic Plan (PDF, 1.68MB) supports improved linkage to care between community-based organizations, correctional facilities, syringe services programs, and substance use disorder treatment programs with viral hepatitis treatment providers. There is an urgent need to evaluate the effectiveness of novel linkage to care strategies in populations with higher rates of hepatitis C to identify barriers and facilitators and further the implementation of successful strategies.

OIDP, part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, provides strategic leadership and management to reduce the burden of infectious diseases, encouraging collaboration, coordination, and innovation among federal agencies and other stakeholders. OIDP’s work spans a number of topics related to infections disease and healthcare-associated infections including antibiotic resistance, blood and tissue safety and availability, HIV/AIDS, vaccines, viral hepatitis, and sexually transmitted infections. OIDP coordinates cross-agency implementation of the Viral Hepatitis National Strategic Plan and advances efforts to address the syndemic of HIV, viral hepatitis, STIs, and substance use disorders among federal and nonfederal stakeholders.