The Other Deadly Virus; Durham, N.C., Group Raising Awareness of Hepatitis C
December 15, 2005
Organized in 2003, the Durham-based Piedmont HIV Integrated Community Access System is helping educate the community about hepatitis C virus (HCV). PHICAS's goal includes improving access to HIV/HCV care for the under- and uninsured, integrating social and medical services, and helping medical professionals understand the dynamic of co-infection.
In March 2006, PHICAS is sponsoring a statewide HIV/HCV symposium in Durham to examine co-infection, treatment guidelines and the mental health experiences of patients. In Durham and Chapel Hill, PHICAS created support groups for people with HCV and/or HIV. With a three-year federal Health and Human Services grant, PHICAS funded the state's only free HCV screenings at Durham County Health Department. PHICAS hopes the grant is continued after its 2006 expiration.
"It makes a lot sense to test for hepatitis C," said Brian Letourneau, Durham County health director. "It's largely undiagnosed, and the same kinds of behavior that lead people to become infected with HIV are the same for hepatitis C."
Between 2000 and 2004, about 96 HCV cases were reported in North Carolina, according to state Department of Health and Human Services. To date this year, 15 cases have been recorded. An estimated 150,000 state residents have HCV, but tracking the disease is difficult because health care providers are not required to report chronic cases, said Beth Stringfield, executive director of Piedmont HIV Health Care Consortium, which sponsors PHICAS.
News & Observer (Raleigh)
12.10.2005; Stanley B. Chambers Jr.
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.