Hepatitis C

Hepatitis Education for Opioid Treatment Providers

Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is considered the most common blood-borne infection in the United States. More than 4.4 million Americans are infected with chronic viral hepatitis, and an estimated 15,000 people die each year as a result of infection (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2002). HCV is also one of the leading causes of liver transplantation among adults in the United States. HCV transmission occurs primarily through exposure to infected blood. Direct percutaneous exposure is the most efficient method for transmitting HCV, and injection drug use accounts for more than two-thirds of all new infections in the United States. Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs), needle and syringe exchange programs, and comprehensive risk-modifying educational programs have been shown to be effective in preventing HIV transmission and are likely to be useful for decreasing HCV transmission.

Appropriate training of OTP staff (physicians, physician assistants, nurses, counselors, etc.) for prevention and treatment of Hepatitis C may help avoid infection in those not infected (primary prevention) and may help in secondary and tertiary prevention. The Hepatitis Education Training for Opioid Treatment Providers, developed by the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence, Inc. (AATOD) in collaboration with Hepatitis C Association and DB Consulting with funding through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) – The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), serves as an on-site training of clinicians (physicians, physician’s assistants, nurses, counselors, etc.) working in OTPs.

The Hepatitis Training for Opioid Treatment Providers is approximately 4 hours in length. The training begins with a pre-test, lecture and slide presentation, followed by a post-test/review and Q & A session. This training ultimately provides the program clinical staff basic Hepatitis Education and supportive materials, enabling them to better serve patients, especially those with Hepatitis C.

Each participant at the completion of the training should have a basic understanding of:

  • What is hepatitis
  • Why patients should get tested for hepatitis C
  • How hepatitis is transmitted and treated
  • What happens to people with the disease, such as how they find out they have HCV, the natural progression of the virus, and how HCV affects the liver
  • When and to whom patients with hepatitis C should be referred for additional healthcare services and support
  • Existing and future treatments
  • How both health disparities and healthcare disparities faced by underserved populations affect patient outcomes
  • The type of information and messages OTP healthcare providers can deliver that promote liver health and help patients take action to prevent, treat, and stop the spread of hepatitis C

A copy of the presentation and all resource materials are available on a cd-rom and are provided to the program to utilize as needed. In addition, each participant is provided a comprehensive resource manual, which consisted of speaker’s notes, handouts, pre-post tests, presentation documentation and patient support resources.

In addition to the training, a new national toll-free helpline to provide emotional support, health information, and referrals has been launched for people affected by hepatitis C: 877-HELP-4-HEP (877-435-7443); Monday through Friday 9am to 7pm EST. To learn more, visit www.help4hep.org or email info@help4hep.org.

If you are interested in participating in Hepatitis Training and/or would like more information, please feel free to contact AATOD at 212-566-5555 or via email info@aatod.org.

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