Division of General Internal Medicine

Strategies to Improve HCV Care

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Dr. Chinazo Cunningham, Professor of Medicine (General Internal Medicine) and of Family and Social Medicine, Director of Diversity Affairs for the Department of Medicine, Associate Chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine, Director of Research Resources for the Department of Medicine, and Director of the General Internal Medicine Fellowship Program, recently participated in a special plenary discussion entitled "Strategies to Improve the HCV Continuum of Care: Best Practices in Testing, Linkage to Care, & Treatment", presented at the 2015 National Summit on HCV and HIV Diagnosis, Prevention and Access to Care, June 4-6, 2015 in Arlington, VA.

Dr. Cunningham presented the programs created by herself and colleagues in the Division of General Internal Medicine that have led to the integration of hepatitis C (HCV) and buprenorphrine treatment services in Montefiore's Comprehensive Health Care Center (CHCC), an outpatient facility located in a geographic region with one of the highest rates of premature death due to HIV and drug abuse nationally.

These efforts have included:

  • developing an HIV treatment program in the 1990s
  • partnering with syringe exchange programs in the surrounding neighborhood to provide HIV outreach and care to people who were unstably housed and drug users
  • collaborating with two other syringe exchange programs to develop a buprenorphrine treatment program
  • opening the Bronx Transitions Clinic to address medical and social issues of formerly incarcerated individuals (Dr. Aaron Fox)
  • integrating Dr. Alain Litwin's efforts to integrate HCV treatment into methadone maintenance programs
  • hiring Dr. Brianna Norton as a champion for hepatitis C

"It really takes champions and partnerships to address these issues. These are people, and they need comprehensive treatment," Dr. Cunningham said.

Previous studies conducted by Dr. Cunningham and colleages have shown that patients who take an active role and remain committed to buprenorphrine treatment are more likely to do so in HCV treatment as well.

"We hypothesize that treatment and retention in our other programs, like the HIV Program and the Transitions Clinic, is likely to also be associated with better HCV outcomes," Dr. Cunningham said.

Posted June 28, 2015 

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