The New York State Hepatitis C (HCV) Learning Collaborative, launched earlier this year, is a program that aims to build capacity for HCV testing and linkage to care among substance use disorder (SUD) treatment programs. The NYS Hepatitis C Elimination Plan released in 2021 identified people who use drugs as a priority population in the work towards eliminating hepatitis C in NYS by 2030. Among the 6,164 newly reported HCV cases in New York State (excluding NYC) in 2019, 73% of individuals with known risk factors reported injection drug use. The plan also identifies substance use disorder treatment programs as a priority setting in the initiative to eliminate HCV; however, a 2018 survey of NYS SUD treatment programs found 60% of SUD treatment programs do not provide HCV testing onsite and only 8% offer HCV treatment onsite.
The HCV Learning Collaborative will help prepare these programs to screen and diagnose people for hepatitis C, using antibody screening and HCV RNA testing, and link clients living with HCV to curative treatment and care. Participating programs will undergo an organizational readiness assessment to identify areas for tailored technical assistance in the integration of HCV services. Through the Collaborative, additional training will be supplemented by monthly calls to discuss challenges, identify solutions, and share best practices and resources.
The NYS collaborative is unique in providing financial support for participating programs over the two year program. The collaborative provides funding to six selected substance use disorder treatment programs outside of NYC. Between April 1, 2022 and March 31, 2024, the programs will receive $50,000 annually. The HCV Learning Collaborative is led by Mehvish Bhatti, a Project Coordinator at the New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Hepatitis Health Care.