New Questions About HCV From A New Generation

Author: Knight L, Wagner K, Leyva Y, Bruce V, White KAM, Talamantes Y, Price B, Page K and Carvour M

Theme: Epidemiology & Public Health Research Year: 2018

Background: Approximately 3.5 million Americans are infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV), with the majority of incident HCV infections attributable to injection drug use in rural areas of the US. As the incidence of HCV infection rapidly increases, especially among young adults, public health initiatives aimed at patient and provider education are needed to dispel misconceptions regarding HCV assessment and treatment. This HCV Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) is intended to support and complement the knowledge and expertise of medical and public health professionals who are responsible for educating and treating patients. Methods: Field workers in the VALE Hepatitis Treatment and Integrated Prevention Services study identified questions commonly asked during HCV screening and educational sessions. From 2016-2018, 185 young adults (45% women; 86% Latino/a) under the age of 30 who inject drugs and reside in Rio Arriba or Doña Ana counties (New Mexico) were enrolled. The research team compiled de-identified questions during field enrollments. Results: FAQs were reviewed and categorized into five major domains, including risk, prevention, screening, treatment, and post-treatment. FAQs were addressed by a team of medical and public health professionals, utilizing the most current research and recommendations, and distributed to participants with similar questions. VALE staff have directly observed how having this information can empower individuals to change their injection behavior and educate their peers. Conclusion: This FAQ sheet addresses important gaps in HCV knowledge among young adult patients who are at high risk for infection. The FAQs also highlight the importance or risk education counseling provided by frontline public health providers as well as access to safe and effective HCV treatments for young adults who inject drugs. Equipping public health and medical officials with readily available, current resources like this may improve understanding about HCV in this unique patient population and may diminish common misconceptions about HCV. Disclosure of Interest Statement: This study was supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (award number 5U18PS004568-03; PI: Page, K.). Additional funding for personnel and study supplies was provided by Gilead Sciences, Inc. Funding agencies did not participate in treatment decisions or manuscript preparation. The study also received programmatic and logistical support from the University of New Mexico (UNM) Clinical and Translational Sciences Center (National Institutes of Health award number 1 ULTR001449; PI: Larson R.), Project ECHO®, Creative Testing Solutions©, the New Mexico Department of Health, the Santa Fe Mountain Center, and the Molecular Epidemiology Laboratory in the UNM Health Sciences Center, Division of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Preventive Medicine.

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