San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has recently established the San Francisco Mayor's Hepatitis C Task Force. This task force, composed of 32 advocates, medical and social service providers, public health officials, and people living with hepatitis C will create a comprehensive set of policy and funding recommendations on fighting the hepatitis C epidemic in the city.
An estimated four million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis C (HCV), many of whom are not aware of their status. Hepatitis C severely impacts people living with HIV, with 30% co-infected with HCV. Hepatitis C also disproportionately affects African-Americans, Latinos, veterans, parolees returning to the community, injection drug users, immigrants, and low-income residents. Hepatitis C can lead to liver disease, cirrhosis, liver cancer, liver failure and death. However, many people at risk for or infected with HCV are neither tested nor treated due to lack of public awareness about hepatitis and lack of access to care. Thus, many people living with HCV are unable to protect their own health, and efforts to prevent the spread of HCV are severely compromised.
San Francisco has been hit particularly hard by the hepatitis C epidemic, with an estimated 12,000 people infected with HCV. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), liver cancer from hepatitis B and C kills more people in the San Francisco Bay Area than anywhere else in the country.
Among the goals of the Task Force are to: develop better surveillance and reporting for HCV; raise awareness regarding HCV on both community and individual levels; improve access to care and support services and increase quality of life for people with HCV; make HCV screening and testing widely available and accessible; promote partnerships among the public/private health care sector, community organizations, advocates, and individuals affected by HCV; and identify existing assets and gaps in access to HCV education, prevention, screening, testing, and care.
The San Francisco Hepatitis C Task Force is sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance and cosponsored by Project Inform and the Hepatitis C Support Project. Ryan Clary, Project Inform's Public Policy Director, is an appointed member of the group. Task Force meetings are held the second Monday evening of each month and are open to the public. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.