Date of Award

5-2018

Document Type

Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Elise Bolda, Ph.D.

Abstract

The opiate epidemic has had an impact on the lives of millions of people in this county. As we explore ways to address this issue, it is important to consider the long-term consequences that the epidemic will have. One long-term consequence is the spread of the hepatitis C virus (or HCV). Approximately 3.2 million people in the United States are chronically infected with this virus. Without consideration about ways to treat this virus and prevent its transmission, there will be large numbers of people who will die from complications of HCV in the future. These losses will contribute to the tragedies already sustained from the opiate epidemic. The following paper examines trends among individuals with a self-reported HCV positive status upon admission to Milestone Recovery, an acute detox facility in Portland, Maine. Findings include: that there were more male clients than female clients who presented with HCV in 2017, the median age of clients was 37 years, and there were high rates of both opiate and poly substance abuse among those with HCV. Also, there were high rates of needle sharing, lack of insurance coverage, high unemployment rates, and most clients were not connected with a primary care provider. Additionally, most of these clients reside in Cumberland County and had engaged in injection drug use in the past six months. An intervention is proposed at the end of this paper with a goal to connect hepatitis C positive clients from Milestone Recovery to healthcare and to treatment for HCV. This is a step towards reducing rates of HCV among high-risk and vulnerable individuals and a step towards reducing transmission of the disease to others.

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