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Missouri health leaders announce plan to eliminate hepatitis C

Published: May. 20, 2022 at 11:31 AM CDT|Updated: May. 20, 2022 at 4:31 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Missouri health leaders released the first-ever hepatitis C elimination plan, Show Me the Cure.

Leaders hope it will improve access to equitable testing and patient-centered treatment services to combat the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), Bureau of HIV, STD, and Hepatitis is working to eliminate hepatitis C in Missouri by ensuring universal testing, improving health care outcomes for people living with hepatitis C and preventing new infections.

The hepatitis C virus is one of the most significant health problems affecting the liver. More than half of the individuals diagnosed with HCV will develop chronic infection, while the other half may experience acute infection that may spontaneously clear.

“With an estimated 2.4 million Americans living with hepatitis C, it is important that Missourians have access to services for testing and treatment,” said Paula Nickelson, acting director of DHSS. “With the establishment of the Missouri Hepatitis C Elimination Planning Committee and Show Me the Cure plan, DHSS can assist with the resources and tools Missourians need to better understand hepatitis C. We will use this plan to increase prevention, testing, and treatment services through policy development and advocacy efforts.”

The Show Me the Cure plan focuses on access to services, provider development, education, collaboration and awareness, surveillance, and policy and advocacy.

“Missouri’s hepatitis C plan provides a roadmap for the state to use to eliminate hepatitis C. This plan was developed in collaboration with diverse partners from across the state, which was essential for ensuring that the needs of Missourians were addressed in the plan,” said Alicia Jenkins, Chief, DHSS Bureau of HIV, STD, and Hepatitis.

The AIDS Project of the Ozarks is another local partner that helped make the plan possible.

Access to Services

· Increase the proportion of people who are tested and aware of their hepatitis C status.

· Develop linkage to care for confirmatory testing and treatment.

Provider Development

· Increase the number of health care providers who are trained to identify, diagnose and treat people with hepatitis C.

Education, Collaboration and Awareness

· Increase awareness of testing and treatment for people living with hepatitis C.

· Educate Missourians on health equity, stigma and cultural humility regarding hepatitis C.

Surveillance

· Evaluate the current hepatitis C surveillance system.

· Improve the quality and completeness of hepatitis C data, including improved demographics and risk factor data reporting.

· Routinely analyze, disseminate findings and utilize hepatitis C data to develop and improve testing and linkage to care programs.

· Identify data resources and collaborate with other organizations to compile information regarding HCV populations.

Policy and Advocacy

· Increase awareness of services for patients, and increase opportunities for advocacy.

· Increase awareness regarding policies and laws that create barriers to hepatitis C testing and treatment.

· Encourage and promote hepatitis C universal screening in primary care and other settings that provide services to those at highest risk.

The plan was developed in collaboration with MO HealthNet, Missouri Department of Corrections, Missouri Department of Mental Health, Hep C Alliance, Missouri Telehealth Network & Show-Me ECHO, St. Louis County Department of Public Health, City of St. Louis Department of Health, AIDS Project of the Ozarks, Missouri Primary Care Association, Swope Health, Washington University – Project ARK, KC Care Health Center, Clay County Public Health Center, CoxHealth, Missouri Rural Health Association and AbbVie.

The Show Me the Cure plan and more information about hepatitis C can be found by visiting Health.Mo.Gov/MoHepC.

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