Next-generation hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment has been available for over five years, but, according to public health statistics, the epidemic is far from over. As advocates continue to push for legal and political fixes to stem the tide of infections, many are now arguing it simply cannot be done without first tackling the epidemic in our nation’s prisons, U.S. News reports.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
“Since the prison system has the highest concentration of people living with the virus, failure to scale up treatment in prisons dooms any effort to eliminate hepatitis C in America,” states a 2018 study conducted by researchers at Yale University. The study, a follow-up to a landmark study published two years ago, found that hepatitis C spiked more than 200 percent in 30 U.S. states since the period between 2010 and 2014.
The problem is, with cure costs averaging $20,000 per patient for a standard eight- to 12-week course of treatment in the corrections system, many prisons aren’t willing to pay for hepatitis C treatment for their inmates. Because of the U.S. Constitution’s
Over the past few years, advocates have filed class-action lawsuits in nearly a dozen. states to spur change and drive down infection rates among incarcerated populations. Cases in Massachusetts and Colorado have been settled. A Pennsylvania settlement is currently awaiting approval by a federal judge. Other lawsuits in Indiana, Alabama, Missouri, Tennessee, Idaho
To learn more about hepatitis C in prisons and why access to treatment is important, click here.