Promising Approaches to Improving Outcomes along the HCV Continuum of Care
- Colleen Flanigan, RN, MS, Director, Viral Hepatitis Section at the New York State Department of Health, presented on the workExit Disclaimer being conducted in her state to promote hepatitis C screening, linkage to care, and treatment. In New York, community-based rapid testing has increased screening rates among those at risk; however, additional resources are necessary to better link diagnosed individuals to care. New York passed the first HCV testing law in the nation and Ms. Flanigan shared her office’s work to support implementation of the law.
- Michael Ninburg, Executive Director of the Hepatitis Education Project (HEP), described community-level effortsExit Disclaimer to address hepatitis C infection within Washington State. HEP provides screening, vaccinations, medical case management, and other hepatitis-related services to youth, adults, and incarcerated persons in the region, in part, through funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- David Ross, MD, PhD, Director of HIV, Hepatitis, and Public Pathogens Programs at the Veterans Health Administration provided an overviewExit Disclaimer of hepatitis C activities in the Veterans Administration (VA) healthcare system. The VA is the largest single provider of hepatitis C-related care in the U.S., and the system is planning to treat most patients by the year 2020. The VA continues to rollout innovative strategies to increase testing and improve linkage to care, including routinizing birth cohort testing, training providers, and utilizing social marketing approaches. They are also harnessing data to provide facilities feedback on the proportion of veterans tested by facility and have added a related performance measure for regional facility directors.
- Chinazo Cunningham, MD, MS, Professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, concluded the presentations by sharing the multidisciplinary effortsExit Disclaimer in place at Montefiore Medical Center to integrate hepatitis C management into a buprenorphine treatment program. Dr. Cunningham highlighted the team approach and importance of an integrated care setting in effectively meeting the healthcare needs of their substance abuse treatment patients.
As we work together to implement the Action Plan for the Prevention, Care, and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis and to improve outcomes across the continuum of HCV care, we must continue to identify, share, and scale up best practices; leverage existing efforts and resources; improve coordination across programs and agencies. If we are able to do so successfully, we will ultimately we achieve the desired increases in the proportion of people cured of their HCV infection.