Hepatitis C (HCV) is the second-most reported infectious disease in Clallam County. HCV risk groups that should be screened include members of the Baby Boomer generation, with many in that generation infected because HCV risks were not fully understood and thorough screening was not performed during the 1960s, 70s and 80s, leading to inadvertent infections. IV drug users are also at great risk because HCV spreads easily and can survive not only on injection needles but also other paraphernalia.
Working in conjunction with the University of Washington ECHO program, the six-member VIMO HCV team assesses and treats patients with HCV. Two patients have successfully completed treatment and have been cured. There are currently 20 patients undergoing treatment in the VIMO HCV program.
Previous HCV treatment with Interferon led to a cure but the side effects were extremely difficult for patients to tolerate. New treatment models using Harvoni and other similar drugs are more tolerable and lead to a greater-than-90% cure rate. The 8-, 12- or 24-week course, however, is insurmountably expensive for most patients, with each daily dose of the medication costing approximately $1,000. Washington State Medicaid will pay for the treatment of HCV and, with recent judicial orders in place, Medicaid patients at all levels of HCV infection have access to the treatment with no out-of-pocket cost.
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