Drug User Health

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conservatively estimates that 3.5 million people in the U.S. are living with the hepatitis C virus (HCV). This number is likely an underestimate due to disjointed HCV surveillance across the nation. Injection drug use is now the primary risk factor for new HCV infections. Because an estimated 80% of new HCV infections occur among people who inject drugs (PWID), it is critical to prioritize this population for screening, linkage, and treatment both to address the community’s healthcare needs and to halt the increase in new infections.

Despite expert guidance from American Association for the Study of Liver Disease (AASLD)/Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA), The European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL), the International Network on Hepatitis in Substance Users (INHSU), and the World Health Organization (WHO), PWID are systematically denied access to new curative therapies and science-based prevention strategies in discussions surrounding hepatitis C treatment access.

Click here for a fact sheet on the link between opioid use and HCV.

Click here for a letter that NVHR sent to the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. In our letter, we ask the Commission to address the hepatitis B and C epidemics as tragic public health consequences of the opioid crisis when compiling its Final Report for delivery to the president.

NVHR supports drug policy initiatives aimed at increasing access to harm reduction services, drug treatment options, and prevention of hepatitis B and C through addressing the opioid/heroin addiction crisis. Our activities and responsibilities below highlight this commitment.

In April 2018, NVHR was pleased to co-sponsor a Hill briefing, “Using Harm Reduction Strategies to End the Opioid and Hepatitis B and C Epidemics,” with the Hepatitis Appropriations Partnership (HAP), Hep B United, NASTAD, The AIDS Institute, Hepatitis B Foundation, and the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO). The briefing focused on the need to expand access to syringe exchange programs as recommended by the National Academies’ National Strategy for the Elimination of Hepatitis B and C report. Please see below for presentations from some of our speakers.

For the presentation of Dr. Wilson M. Compton, Deputy Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health, click here.

For the presentation of Dr. Judith Feinberg, Professor, Department of Behavioral Medicine & Psychiatry, West Virginia University School of Medicine, click here.

For the presentation of Paul Harkin, HIV/HCV & Harm Reduction Programs Manager, Glide Foundation, click here.

Coalition Work

NVHR is a member of the Coalition for Syringe Access (CSA), a national organization of stakeholders, including medical societies, policy and community groups, and individual programs working in communities to provide prevention and health care services related to syringe service programs and harm reduction.

NVHR also serves as a steering committee member of the CSA coalition. In this role, we work to ensure that viral hepatitis is included in discussions surrounding drug user health, harm reduction programs, syringe service programs, and prevention methods tied to the opioid epidemic.

Follow the Coalition for Syringe Access on Twitter to stay updated on issues related to syringe access, viral hepatitis, and drug user health!



Department of Health and Human Services Implementation Guidance to Support Certain Components of Syringe Services Programs  March 29, 2016
This document provides implementation guidance for programs directly funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) interested in implementing or expanding syringe services programs (SSPs) for persons who inject drugs (PWID).


Coalition for Syringe Access Press Release: Congressional Briefings Tout Benefits, Debunk Myths of Syringe Services Programs  October 30, 2015
The Coalition for Syringe Access (CSA) hosted two Congressional Briefings on Wednesday, October 28, 2015, where they touted the benefits and debunked the myths of syringe service programs (SSPs). A group of law enforcement officials, medical providers, academic representatives, and community advocates convened to discuss Congress ending the ban on federal support for SSPs.

OASIS: A film about a community-based clinic treatment current and former drug users for hepatitis C  October 19, 2015
This film takes viewers inside a struggling community-based clinic called O.A.S.I.S., which specializes in treating current and former intravenous drug users for Hepatitis C. This film shows the resilience of O.A.S.I.S. patients and its staff that's become known for its dedication to treating this population without judgment or stigma.

NVHR & National LGBTQ Task Force Submit Comments to CDC  August 31, 2015
NVHR and the National LGBTQ Task Force submitted comments to the CDC regarding CDC’s Proposed Data Collection: "Prevent Hepatitis Transmission Among Persons Who Inject Drugs." Their recommendations include adding sexual orientation to demographics questions and adding street hormones to safe injection practices cialis-online-secure.com for LGBTQ youth.

Coalition for Syringe Access: Lifting the Ban  July 14, 2015
NVHR and the Coalition for Syringe Access created a two-page document outlining the argument for lifting the federal ban on syringe service programs (SSPs), including their role in preventing the spread of infectious diseases like hepatitis C and HIV, saving taxpayer dollars, and preserving public safety.

NVHR Letters in Support of "The Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment Act" (TREAT Act)  June 15, 2015
NVHR wrote this letter of support to members of the House of Representatives regarding the Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment (TREAT) Act, arguing that the TREAT Act provides for increased access to medication-assisted therapy (MAT) for opioid-dependent persons, also serving a vital role in stemming the tide of a resurgent hepatitis C epidemic.

NVHR Letters in Support of Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015 (CARA)  June 1, 2015
NVHR drafted this letter of support for the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015 (CARA), arguing that CARA outlines a broad strategy to address the opioid and heroin abuse crisis in our communities and can also serve a vital role in stemming the tide of a resurgent hepatitis C epidemic.


Nobody Left Behind - The importance of integrating people who inject drugs into HCV treatment programs  June 26, 2014
The vast majority of people with chronic HCV infection live in low- and middle-income countries, where access to HCV treatment remains very limited. This document develops core arguments for why it is relevant, feasible, and indeed crucial to include people who inject drugs in national treatment guidelines and programs for chronic HCV infection – from both public health and human rights perspectives.

NVHR Endorses S.2839, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2014  October 16, 2014
NVHR has endorsed S.2839, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2014. This legislation outlines a broad strategy to address the opioid and heroin misuse crisis. The legislation has great potential to stem the tide of new hepatitis C infections among people who inject drugs.