The Emerging Issue of Hepatitis C Virus in the United States and in West Virginia

Introduction:

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is one of the most significant public health problems currently facing the U.S., Especially in West Virginia. If it is undetected and left untreated, the likelihood of sustaining a treatment response decreases. While early identification has been identified as a critical focus in trying to obtain better health outcomes, new drug treatments appear promising, although somewhat expensive. West Virginia, a predominantly rural state, is beginning to face a mounting financial crisis due to HCV.

Purpose of the Study:

The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of early identification and treatment for patients infected with HCV given the financial restraints in the healthcare delivery in the United States and in particular in West Virginia.

Methodology:

The methodology for this qualitative study was a literature review. Seven electronic databases were utilized with a total of 50 scholarly articles being referenced for this research. Additionally, it was performed a semi-structured interview with an Infectious Disease physician.

Results:

The literature review examined several studies that evaluated acute and chronic HCV identification process and Implications for this population. Also, the semi-structured interview revealed more insight into HCV identification and treatment. The results demonstrated potential to increasing QALYs along with highlighting restrictions of current payment for procedures.

Discussion/Conclusion:

The results of the literature review did suggest that early intervention programs are needed to decrease the incidence and Prevalence of HCV. Several practical implications included the possibility of obtaining funding for early intervention Programs through grants and the modification of legislation to benefit vulnerable populations. Improving testing, Simplifying screening, and data collection through enhanced surveillance reporting, along with an expanded specialized clinical workforce would be of benefit and represent some cost savings.