Macomb County, Mich.
Along with the current national and local heroin and opioid epidemic, Macomb County experienced a significant increase in the number of reported Hepatitis C virus (HCV) disease in young adults 18 to 29 years of age. As limited resources are available for follow-up with chronic HCV infected persons, and injection drug use is a risk factor for contracting HCV, there was a need for more comprehensive data and follow-up on reported cases. Macomb County Health Department implemented an initiative to address this severe gap by supported a part-time public health nursing position. The nurse focused on enhanced surveillance by conducting follow-up investigations on 120 chronic cases of HCV in young adults to obtain more comprehensive epidemiological information from physicians and cases to inform intervention efforts. These follow-up investigations provided an opportunity to locate the case, identify contacts, and provide education. The resulting enhanced HCV surveillance data and expanded testing provided opportunities to improve collaboration with community partners, identified new cases, and increased awareness of HCV risk factors. Expanded testing in the STD clinic resulted in identifying new cases of Hepatitis C by offering testing to this population. Of those that agreed to test (2139), 2% (33) had positive laboratory results and did not previously know their status. The program supported additional knowledge about the epidemiology and needs of persons infected with HCV in the county, informed better connections to needed services, and increased awareness in other sectors of the community.
Ms. Sarah Cormier