"Tales from the Cured": Ending Hepatitis C in San Francisco
As members of GLIDE’s HIV & Hep C Harm Reduction Programs, the Hepatitis C navigators and I get the pleasure of being part of the City of San Francisco’s End Hep C SF initiative. End Hep C SF is a multi-sector collective-impact initiative that includes various service providers and community members working towards the elimination of hepatitis C in San Francisco. As a collective, we meet regularly in different work groups to find creative ways to increase testing and linkage to hepatitis C care, improve research and surveillance on hepatitis C prevalence, increase prevention and education efforts in the community, and increase hepatitis C treatment access to all hepatitis C–positive people in San Francisco.
Currently there are an estimated 13,000 people living with active hepatitis C in San Francisco. Of those people, 70% are people who inject drugs (PWIDs), although PWIDs make up less than 3% of the city’s population. Thirteen percent of the total are men who have sex with men (MSM), even though MSM make up just 8% of the city’s population; and 38% of the total are baby boomers (people born between 1945 and 1965).
Considering the hepatitis C disparities in San Francisco, END Hep C SF works hard to collectively make access to testing and treatment available to everyone in the city, especially high-risk populations who are bearing the greatest burden of disease. To date, End Hep C SF estimates that 4,000–5,000 people in San Francisco have been treated and cured!
GLIDE hosted the second biannual End Hep C SF community meeting on August 3. The theme of the event was “Tales from the Cured,” and we highlighted World Hepatitis Day (July 28) and honored the stories of folks in the community who have gone through treatment and been cured of hepatitis C. It was a wonderful turnout and event, with different service providers and community members packing into GLIDE’s Freedom Hall. Attendees shared their stories about the benefits of getting cured and encouraged others to do the same. We celebrated the successes of those who have been cured and discussed future strategies for developing programs for peer navigators to connect even more folks to hepatitis C treatment.
As we continue to work towards ending hepatitis C in San Francisco, it is important for us to keep the community involved and engaged. For more information about End Hep C SF and how you can get involved check out: endhepcsf.org.
Janelle Silvis has spent that last nine years working in harm reduction and syringe access services. She is currently a Health System Navigator with the HIV & Hep C Harm Reduction Programs at GLIDE. Her role is to help clients navigate the health care system as they advocate for and achieve Hep C treatment. She also helps assist all facets of the HIV & Hep C Harm Reduction Programs by providing syringe access, overdose education and HIV & Hep C testing and counseling.