HepCURE launches mobile screening unit to support marginalized communities
We are pleased to announce the launch of our HepCURE Mobile Unit to support priority patient populations across Ontario. The HepCURE mobile unit will facilitate onsite screenings, clinical assessments and linkage to treatment for marginalized people at the highest risk of Hep C exposure while following appropriate COVID-19 safety protocols. People who are members of priority populations (such as marginalized people and those who use drugs) are often excluded from mainstream health services, and face high levels of stigma, discrimination, and other obstacles that make it difficult for them to access and utilize healthcare. Programs and services need to be informed by, appropriate for, and accessible, available, and acceptable to people who are members of priority populations in order to achieve HCV elimination goals. Furthermore, extraordinary measures are required to support people who use/inject drugs and prevent ongoing community spread of HCV among a vulnerable immune-compromised population while avoiding community spread of Covid-19. Since March of 2020, when COVID-19 escalated in the Province of Ontario, many harm reduction and mental health and addiction services closed their doors or offered limited services, often in the virtual form. Lack of clean harm reduction supplies and treatment dropouts are contributing to fewer patients being tested and treated for HCV, thereby impacting the goal of viral Hepatitis C elimination by 2030. We look forward to sharing updates on our efforts towards Hep C elimination within priority patient populations.