A wave of diagnostics ushered in by Covid could help revive flagging efforts to eliminate the disease.
By Ted Alcorn Feb. 4, 2022 NY TIMES
The day after Christmas, when Kellie Trent was scheduled to pick up medication to cure her hepatitis C, it seemed like a little miracle.
She was expected at the Pioneer Family Practice in western Washington State, seven months after screening positive for the blood-borne infection at a clinic that dispenses medication to treat her heroin addiction. All that time, as she underwent more tests and waited for results while in and out of residential drug treatment, addressing her hepatitis C remained out of reach.
On the eve of her December appointment, her physician, Dr. Lucinda Grande, grew concerned when a storm brought four inches of snow to the region, snarling the roads.
But in the end, Ms. Trent did not show up because she landed in jail for a few days, arrested after missing court appearances for sentencing on a misdemeanor assault charge, according to court records.
Dr. Grande stowed away the first half of the unused prescription — a four-week course of pills priced at $13,000.
“She has had a bumpy road,” Dr. Grande said.
Ms. Trent is among an estimated 2.4 million Americans with hepatitis C, which killed more than 14,000 in 2019, the most recent data available, despite the availability of drugs offering a relatively straightforward cure. The U.S. government set a target of largely vanquishing the disease by 2030, but data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the number of treated patients has been falling and is less than half the rate necessary to meet that goal.
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