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A New Ally in the Fight Against Hepatitis C

Chattanooga CARES has been serving the local community for over 30 years in the area of HIV/AIDS education, prevention, and treatment. After seeing a growing need in the community, Chattanooga CARES restructured its mission and services to include Hepatitis C. Today, more Americans die from Hepatitis C than any other infectious disease combined and the number of related deaths have reached an all-time high. An estimated 2.7 million Americans are chronically infected with Hepatitis C. The greatest of this burden falls on baby boomers – those born from 1945 to 1965 – many of whom have unknowingly been living with the infection for many years. Another high-risk group is former or current injection drug users. Those affected can become chronically infected and risk serious long-term clinical disease including cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Chattanooga CARES is the only community health center that offers education, rapid testing, and treatment for Hepatitis C in local and rural communities. Chattanooga CARES provides Hepatitis C education to over 23 counties and partners with a wide range of drug rehab facilities, healthcare organizations, schools, and other community partners to inform individuals about the risks and need for Hepatitis C testing and treatment.

Chattanooga CARES offers free rapid Hepatitis C antibody testing to anyone who is at risk. This includes, but is not limited to, being born between 1945 and 1965, evidence of liver disease (such as abnormal liver tests), received a blood transfusion or organ transplant from a donor before July 1992, or current or former drug user who used needles to inject drugs.

Chattanooga CARES offers Hepatitis C treatment to individuals with or without insurance. For those without insurance, the cost for the 3-month treatment required to clear the virus can range from $80,000 to $120,000. However, Chattanooga CARES is the only community based organization that offers income assistance coverage for the costs of medication, labs, and office visits to uninsured qualified individuals. By partnering with national assistance programs, Chattanooga CARES has been able reduce the out-of-pocket costs for someone without insurance from an average of $100,000 to less than $600.

For more information contact Melissa Loper at mloper@chattanoogacares.org

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