Hepatitis C Initiative
The Centers for Disease Control reports that viral hepatitis is caused by infection from one of five viruses: hepatitis A, B, C, D or E. All hepatitis viruses can cause inflammation of the liver. Chronic hepatitis B and C can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer.
An estimated 3.2 million persons are living with chronic Hepatitis C in the United States and most of them don’t know it. More than 75% of adults with Hepatitis C are baby boomers, i.e., born from 1945 through 1965. It is important to note that within the African American community, chronic liver disease, often Hepatitis C-related, is a leading cause of death among persons aged 45-64 years. As well, African Americans have a substantially higher rate of chronic Hepatitis C infection than Caucasians and other ethnic groups.
Wondering if you are at risk? Take the CDC’s Viral Hepatitis Risk Assessment.
Founded in 1987, the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Inc. (NBLCA) is the oldest non-profit organization in the United States dedicated to the development and implementation of initiatives to assist Black/African American communities navigate through the shifting landscape of HIV/AIDS and other health disparities. On July 25, 2013, NBLCA, in partnership with the Coalition for Positive Health Empowerment and Harm Reduction, initiated the first annual observance of African American Hepatitis C Action Day. A commemoration day designed to heighten public awareness about the devastating impact of HEP C within Black/African American communities.
Since 2014, NBLCA has expanded the HEP C Action Day, nationwide, with a “call to Action” in partnership with national community organizations. Through this initiative, NBLCA has been able to leverage relationships with national organizations, local community partners, medical schools, and health departments in furthering its goals of heightening education and awareness, and facilitating access to treatment.
Despite medical advances and approval of therapies intended to prevent, treat and cure viral hepatitis C, it remains a silent killer and reflects the distribution of health disparities in the United States. Multiple studies have found that 50-75% of people with an HCV infection are unaware of their status. Black/African American communities are disproportionately impacted by Hepatitis C Virus. Yet, the problem is largely unrecognized by healthcare professionals, policymakers and those at the greatest risk.
Hepatitis C Southern Initiative
NBLCA seeks to reverse impact of the Hepatitis C epidemic in selective geographical areas in the south, within Black/African American communities among populations at the greatest risk, through engagement of community partnerships that consist of faith-based and community-based organizations, healthcare providers, policy makers and other community member stakeholders. At the core of this program is the fundamental belief that there is a lack of both public and provider awareness and education around HCV, as well as a lack of resources allocation to this widespread epidemic.
- Town Halls/Forums
- National African American Hepatitis C Action Day activities
- Social media, local radio, television and print
- Distribution of resource materials
- Working with the spectrum of organizations and local leaders, as identified with a focused agenda, the Hep C Southern Initiative can be replicated across geographical
Expected Outcomes/Impact implementation of the program includes the following:
- Inform Black/African American communities within the designated cities about Hepatitis C epidemiology in their community
- Increase participants understanding of viral hepatitis transmission and prevention using simple and clear to assess risk behaviors
- Increase participant’s comprehension for hepatitis C treatment evaluation, management, duration, and
- Increase participants comprehension for challenges in treating a patient co-infected with hepatitis C/HIV and how this impacts HIV positive individuals.
- Increase awareness of structural challenges and other social determinates that impact health equity.
- Increase awareness and highlight citywide hepatitis prevention and testing.