The increase in injection drug use has led to a drastic increase in Hepatitis C (HCV) infections. Appalachia is among the most affected with a 300% rise in infection rates. Harm reduction strategies are vital to help reduce HCV transmission and support the health of people who use drugs in these underserved communities.
Enter HepConnect — a regional initiative that focuses on the intersection of hepatitis C and drug use in five key states: Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.
The broader HepConnect Initiative aims to combat the spread of HCV by focusing on:
Screening and connection to care
Harm reduction and community education
Strengthening healthcare infrastructure
Building Program Capacity
This work is bigger than us. To scale the implementation of harm reduction strategies, we’ve partnered with local organizations across Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and West Virginia.
These groups are focused on:
Educate the community about, and build support for, evidence-based harm reduction strategies
Provide new or expanded harm reduction services for people who inject drugs
We’re proud to award $5.3 million in grants to 32 organizations for 44 projects to meet the needs of the Appalachian community. This is the single largest funding in history specifically for harm reduction programs in this region.
For more insight into the planning and selection process,
check out our HepConnect Report.
The Work Ahead
There is much to be done. We’re working arm in arm with our partners to implement evidence-based solutions to meet the needs of Appalachian people. This means:
Expanding harm reduction services (supplies, outreach sites & mobile vans, testing materials) for people who use drugs.
Increasing staff, training and support groups for people who use drugs.
Promoting community education, coalition building and regional support to create environments more receptive to these programs.