In addition to our programming around HIV, the Project of Primary Health Care is committed to reducing new Hepatitis C (abbreviated as “HCV” for “hepatitis C virus”) infections and treating those with HCV so they can live better and healthier lives. From the CDC’s website:

Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus. Today, most people become infected with the hepatitis C virus by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. For some people, hepatitis C is a short-term illness but for more than 50% of people who become infected with the hepatitis C virus, it becomes a long-term, chronic infection. Chronic hepatitis C is a serious disease than can result in long-term health problems, even death. Many people might not be aware of their infection because they are not clinically ill. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C.

We asked our Clinical Director, Becky Johnson, DNP, ARNP, AAHIVS, and Megan Campbell, Pharm.D., AAHIVP, some questions about Hepatitis C and how to treat it.

What is Hepatitis C and how do you get it?

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that can cause damage to the liver. It spreads by blood and people are exposed through needles, sex, or childbirth to name a few. Hepatitis can irritate or inflame the liver and lead to liver damage. 

Who should get tested for Hepatitis C?

Everyone aged 18-79 should be screened for Hepatitis C at least once per new recommendations from the US Preventive Services Task Force. It’s a simple blood test. There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C as there is for Hepatitis A & Hepatitis B.

What is new with Hepatitis C treatment? 

Older treatments had lots of side effects and invariably made people feel cruddy. Treatment lasted 9 months to a year and cure rates were low. Now there are medications with cure rates >95% that are really well tolerated. In most cases, someone only needs to take a medication for 8 to 12 weeks to be cured of Hepatitis C. 

Can I afford the medications?

We can get the medication covered by insurance. Copay cards are available that help to reduce or eliminate out of pocket costs. For those without insurance, we’ve had luck getting Patient Assistance Programs to pay for the drugs. Our pharmacist, Megan Campbell, can help with patient assistance and getting the medication. You can get your refill at PHC Pharmacy located next to the clinic, if that’s convenient. 

How do you make an appointment? 

Call the clinic at 515-248-1500.  There are two providers who specialize in Hepatitis C, Becky Johnson, ARNP and Leah Siegfried, PA-C.

In conclusion, we hope you’ll come see us to get a test or for treatment if you are living with Hepatitis C. We want to help you to live a happy, healthier life!

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