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Michigan Department of Health and Human Services launches We Treat Hep C Campaign

(WAGM)
Published: Apr. 1, 2021 at 9:51 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Hepatitis C is an infection caused by a virus that attacks the liver and leads to inflammation. It’s spread by contact with contaminated blood, which could for example come from unsterile tattoo equipment. Now, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is working to eliminate Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) as a health threat to Michiganders altogether.

They’re doing it through the We Treat Hep C Initiative, and with the release of the state plan on eliminating Hepatitis C.

Most people exposed to the virus will develop chronic HCV infection, which causes damage to the liver and can lead to serious, even life-threatening health problems like cirrhosis and liver cancer. As of yet there isn’t a vaccine for HCV, however there are medications that can cure HCV infection in eight to 12 weeks. Eliminating HCV from the blood also prevents an individual from being able to transmit HCV to others.

At least 115,000 Michiganders are known to be infected with HCV, but the number of infected persons could be as high as 200,000. It’s easy to diagnose with a simple blood test, but because the infection can be symptom-free for many years people who carry the virus are often not tested, and opportunities to cure infection early are missed.

The We Treat Hep C Initiative will help make the proven, clinical tools that can cure the disease accessible to all Michiganders. Part of the We Treat Hep C initiative is to educate and inform clinicians about resources available to test and treat patients for HCV.

“It is crucial that all Michiganders receive a Hepatitis C Virus screening at least one time in their life, and more frequently if they are in an at-risk category,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “HCV is curable, and we are committed to making both testing and treatment accessible for all residents in need.”

Michigan’s HCV elimination strategy is focusing on promoting universal HCV testing for all adults. Additionally, the We Treat Hep C Initiative aims to make treatment more accessible by removing barriers to prescribing.

No one should have to live with or die from HCV. Testing and treatment is simple, and We Treat Hep C aims to make treatment accessible for all Michiganders.

For more information, visit the We Treat Hep C webpage.

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