HepConnect Initiative

Tackling the Rise of Hepatitis C in Greater Appalachia

Thanks to the support of Gilead Sciences

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.

Credit: Precision
Credit: Unknown

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

HepConnect 2021 Time Capsule

Harm Reduction and Community Education

National Harm Reduction Coalition is honored to lead the Harm Reduction & Community Education component of the HepConnect Initiative.

“Harm reduction is health care. HepConnect is providing education and tools people need to make their lives safer and better — and if that ain’t health care, I don’t know what is.”

Orisha Bowers, PhD,

Regional HepConnect Director Harm

Reduction Coalition

Under the HepConnect Initiative, National Harm Reduction Coalition is working to scale evidence-based harm reduction strategies by:

Building program capacity through grants

Supporting targeted outreach and education

Providing on-the-ground technical assistance to local organizations

Convening stakeholder to strengthen local, state and regional partnerships

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.

Harm Reduction Needs You. Join the Movement.

Become a Harm Reduction Champion

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