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$6 million grant to improve hepatitis C treatment in King County (Seattle)
  September 16, 2014 at 7:58 PM
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) affects large numbers of people in King County, but it often goes unnoticed until it's too late. Now health care providers will be better able to identify and successfully treat people with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) in King County, thanks to a $6 million grant awarded to Public Health - Seattle & King County.
The four-year grant from the federal Health and Human Services (HHS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will improve testing, treatment and cure of people with chronic HCV infection.
"Thousands of people in King County have chronic HCV, but many don't know they have it," said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Chief of Communicable Disease & Epidemiology at Public Health - Seattle & King County. "This grant will allow us to make sure that patients with chronic HCV are not just identified, but also seen by a provider, receive follow-up testing, and get the care they need."
The grant will fund the Hepatitis C Test & Cure Project, which will provide training for clinicians on the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of HCV and connect them to specialists. It will also enhance the ability to track patients through better integration of clinical and public health data systems. As a result, it will be easier to detect those patients who have fallen out of treatment and help them get back on track.
The Hepatitis C Test & Cure Project will benefit from many advancements in HCV treatment, including new, highly effective therapies and simplified HCV screening guidelines recommending testing of "Baby Boomers" born between 1945-1965, a group at increased risk of infection. The project will also leverage the use of electronic health records and the increasing number of insured individuals made possible through the Affordable Care Act.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infects the liver and is transmitted primarily by direct exposure to the blood of an infected person. Sixty to 70% of people with chronic infection will develop chronic liver disease, which can lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer. Two to five million Americans are believed to be chronically infected with HCV and annual deaths from HCV range from 17,000 to 80,000. Since 2007, more people now die from HCV than from HIV/AIDS. Yet currently as few as 50% of HCV-infected patients are aware of their diagnosis, and once diagnosed, about one-third of patients are referred to care, a fraction of these are treated, and only five to six percent are cured.
King County is home to 28% of the 69,459 reported cases of chronic HCV in Washington State from 2000-2011. In King County, there are approximately 534,880 baby boomers, representing approximately 28% of the population; an estimated 17,600 have been infected with HCV, with over 9,600 chronically infected. Other populations at increased risk for HCV infection include many foreign born individuals and people who have injected drugs.
Partners in the Hepatitis C Test & Cure Project include Public Health, the University of Washington's Project ECHO telehealth program and a community coalition including Harborview Medical Center, HealthPoint Community Health Centers, NeighborCare Health Community Health Centers, Swedish Medical Center, Group Health Cooperative, the Hepatitis Education Project, and Washington State's Department of Health and Health Care Authority.
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