San Mateo County to Give Funds to Combat Hepatitis C
San Mateo County supervisors yesterday agreed to allocate $85,000 per year in general fund money to provide testing and education for residents at high risk of contracting hepatitis C, the most common blood-borne infection in the United States, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The supervisors' decision was prompted by a Hepatitis C Task Force study that found that up to 17,000 San Mateo County residents, or between 10 and 13 times the number infected with HIV, could carry hepatitis C. Study researchers administered hepatitis C tests to 1,025 jail inmates, individuals participating in needle exchange programs or receiving care at the county's HIV/AIDS clinics and others considered at "high risk" of contracting the virus. Among the study population, 53% of those using the county's needle exchange program, 29% of individuals at the county's HIV/AIDS clinics and more than 30% of inmates had hepatitis C. The funding will be used to provide education, testing, counseling and prevention efforts at existing HIV/AIDS clinics and programs. The money also will provide additional training for correctional officers and medical personnel at the county jail in Redwood City. Health officials estimate that in San Mateo County, hepatitis C is linked to up to 50 deaths per year, compared to between 20 and 30 AIDS-related deaths (Pence, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.