Duff France was living on the streets of Central Washington, struggling with substance use disorder and hepatitis C. “It was the worst time I’ve ever spent,” he said.
Through Apple Health (Medicaid), he was able to access medication to cure his hepatitis C, and services to help him find stable housing and employment. France was one of approximately 65,000 Washingtonians living with chronic hepatitis C, a virus that is the leading cause of liver cancer and a leading indication for liver transplants.
Hepatitis C is the most common blood-borne disease in the United States and in Washington state. From 2012 through 2017, nearly 40,000 cases were newly reported in Washington, and hepatitis C reports state-wide have increased every year since 2012. Most people with hepatitis C don’t know they have it, and the opioid public health crisis has made the problem worse.
Fortunately, treatment is now available for opioid use, and in the past decade, advances in medicine have led to a drug that cures hepatitis C. The drug is costly, but hepatitis C-related hospitalizations cost Washington taxpayers and insurance carriers $114 million between 2010 and 2014.
Wiping out hepatitis C in Washington
Gov. Jay Inslee is aiming to eliminate hepatitis C in Washington state by 2030 as part of his ongoing efforts to build a healthier Washington. The governor issued a directive at Harborview Hepatitis and Liver Clinic that orders state agencies to work with local public health, tribal governments, and other partners to create and implement a statewide hepatitis C elimination plan.
Read the full story on the governor's Medium page.