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California: Outreach Worker Offers Free Testing and Help to Drug Users

April 10, 2014

This article was reported by Redwood Times.

The Redwood Times reported on a Humboldt County Department of Public Health outreach van that parks in Garberville, Calif., for an hour on the first Wednesday of every month to offer needle-exchange services, hygiene supplies, and free HIV and hepatitis testing to drug users. Outreach worker Jimmy Rhodes uses his 24 years as a drug addict, followed by 21 sober years, to help those with the disease and save lives by giving them information about available resources.

Hepatitis C, a blood-borne disease that can cause liver cancer and cirrhosis, is an important focus of Rhodes's presentation. Kathy Epling, owner of the bookstore where Rhodes parks the van, has seen many young drug addicts who find out they have the disease and believe it is a death sentence. There are treatments for hepatitis C, but no vaccine to prevent the disease currently exists. The education Rhodes provides includes ways the disease is spread and how it affects the liver.

"Everyone should know about their liver. It's a wonderful thing," Rhodes declared. The liver's most important function is how it serves as a filter to remove toxins. Hepatitis C can cause scar tissue in the liver, which prevents it from working properly.

To contact Rhodes for further information, call (707) 441-5562 or e-mail at

Back to other news for April 2014

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
Ask Our Expert, David Fawcett, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., About Substance Use and HIV
Needle Exchange & HIV/AIDS: California

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