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Ending the HIV & HCV Epidemics: A Critical Role for Substance Use Providers

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This slide set introduces substance use disorder providers to the issues of HIV and HCV screening and prevention, recognizing the important role that substance use disorder providers play in these areas.

This technical assistance resource emphasizes that the guiding principles of substance use care—harm reduction, screening and other prevention interventions, treatment initiation, and linkage to ongoing medical care—are similar to those of viral hepatitis and HIV care. All models focus on patient safety and wellness, with effective medication being critical for the individual’s health and for related public health benefits.

While hepatitis C testing rates remain sub-optimal across opioid treatment programs, substance use providers have opportunities to test individuals who inject drugs for hepatitis C and HIV during both intake and follow-up visits, and to facilitate care or linkage to care and treatment when indicated. Identifying people who are early in their infection is critical because with timely diagnosis and curative treatment, people with hepatitis C can prevent potential severe outcomes such as liver disease, cirrhosis, liver cancer, and even death.

Today’s highly effective curative treatment is the most powerful tool we have to achieve the goal of hepatitis C elimination. But to fully realize its potential, we need to increase hepatitis C efforts with people who use drugs who are most likely to transmit the virus to others. Increasing hepatitis C cure is possible through leveraging existing infrastructure and providing much-needed viral hepatitis and HIV services in the substance use disorder treatment programs that people who use drugs already access and trust. This slide set is ready-to-use to help call attention to and provide support for opportunities to cure hepatitis C.

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