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Erie County Medical Center enhances concurrent HCV infection and substance abuse treatment

More than 2.5 million people in the United States are living with the hepatitis C virus, with those who inject drugs at the greatest risk for contracting and transmitting HCV. Chronic HCV infections contribute to high morbidity and mortality. These individuals remain at risk if they do not receive adequate substance abuse treatment. In 2012, Erie County Medical Center developed a novel treatment plan to best serve these patients.

At ECMC’s Center for Hepatology, Anthony Martinez, MD, developed an innovative model for co-localized treatment of HCV and opiate dependence to manage both comorbidities in a “treatment as prevention” approach. This highly successful treatment method incorporates community outreach and interventions designed to meet patients in their present state of health without judgment. Success at treatment initiation and completion of HCV medication have been far higher than national averages.

This program supports the New York state Prevention Agenda goal of preventing communicable diseases, specifically 4.1, “Increase the number of persons treated for HCV” and supports interventions 4.1.1 (education) and 4.1.2 (provider knowledge).

Since 2012, ECMC’s Center for Hepatology has treated nearly 3,000 individuals, including many active drug users. Currently, the program has a documented 85% treatment adherence rate and a 98% cure rate. The Center’s program has resulted in a large uptake in initiation of medication-assisted treatment for opioid dependence.

For more information, contact Anthony Martinez, MD, AAHIVS medical director, Hepatology Center, at (716) 898-6410 or adm35@buffalo.edu.