Bridging The Digital Divide & Enhancing Linkage to Hepatitis C Care After Prison Release: The Test Link Call Project

Author: Sofia Bartlett Amanda Yu Pamela Young Mo Korchinski Nancy Desrosiers Roy Ang Zahida Esmail Deanna Romm Daryl Luster Deb Schmitz Maria Alvarez Ruth Elwood Martin Daryl Jane Buxton Jason Wong Sara Young Naveed Janjua

Theme: Models of Care Year: 2022

Enhancing linkage to care for people living with hepatitis C virus (HCV) after leaving prison is crucial
to ensure treatment continuity or access to treatment. People leaving prison frequently have no
mobile phone or contact number, therefore referral to community services or HCV treatment
providers after release is challenging. We launched a Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) project
to address this.
Description of model of care/intervention:
People in British Columbia (BC) Provincial Correctional Centres (PCCs) with HCV infection are
identified by Correctional Health Services (CHS). CHS offers clients linkage to a Peer Health Mentor
(PHM) and a cell phone with a 6-month plan on it, after release. CHS facilitates a call for clients to
complete an interview with the PHM before release. PHMs meet clients at the PCC at release,
provide cell phone, and assist with immediate needs (e.g. accommodation, transport). Clients
provide consent for their new phone number to be shared with an HCV treatment provider in the
community, and PHMs work with clients for up to 6 months, providing support to engage HCV care.
From October 2021 till February 2022, 11 clients consented to linkage to PHMs (Figure 1). One client
is yet to be released from custody, and one withdrew consent prior to receiving their phone. Nine
clients (81%) received phones and PHM support, and all saw and HCV treatment provider after. Two
clients were found to be HCV RNA negative, requiring no further care. One client declined treatment,
and two were lost to follow-up due to re-incarceration or warrants. Thus far, four clients (36%) have
attended a further appointment for HCV treatment prescription. Two participants (18%) started HCV
treatment after prison release so far.
Conclusion and next steps:
Thus far, this CQI project has demonstrated providing a cell phone and peer support at time of
release from prison enhances linkage to care and HCV treatment uptake.
Disclosure of Interest Statement:
The TLC Project is supported by funding from BCCDC Foundation for Public Health and a CONNECT-C
Grant from Gilead Sciences Canada Inc. SB has spoken and consulted for Gilead Sciences Canada Inc
& AbbVie Canada; no personal payments accepted. All other authors have nothing else to declare.

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