In the United States, one in seven state inmates (the majority of U.S. inamtes are in states prisons) are believed to have the hepatitis C virus (HCV) compared with 1 percent of the rest of the population. Meanwhile, prisons across the country continue to drag their heels in providing the lifesaving cures that can help the inmates while also preventing future transmissions. A recent article in The New York Times outlines the reasons why U.S. prisoners are still not getting access to treatment—and the solutions many advocates are fighting for today.
The biggest problem, according to the paper, continues to be the high price of hepatitis C treatment, which many prisons are unable to afford. When next-generation treatments first came out in 2013, they cost upwards of $80,000 per patient for a standard 12-week course of treatment. That price has gone down significantly over the past few
Prison inmates have filed lawsuits in at least nine states—including Massachusetts, Florida, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania
Advocates also argue that treating hepatitis C in prisons would make great strides in decreasing transmission across the country. Some studies suggest that one in three Americans living with hepatitis C passes through the U.S. prison system in any given year. What’s more, if left untreated, hepatitis C can cause irreparable liver damage and significantly increase the risk for cancer.
Several solutions are currently being proposed to fix the problem. At a recent meeting of the National Governors Association, which convenes representatives from states and pharmaceutical companies across the country, participants broached the idea of a Netflix-type treatment model, where states license the use of
For more information about hepatitis C in the U.S. prison system, click here.