Mapping Hepatitis Elimination Blog Highlights Help-4-Hep Contributions
The HHS Mapping Hepatitis Elimination in Action project is documenting the growing number of new partners committed to viral hepatitis elimination. To highlight the unique approaches toward elimination being taken by the diverse programs featured on the map and increase support across the nation, the Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy (OIDP) is launching a blog series beginning with Help-4-Hep.
A significant problem for some people affected by hepatitis C is simply not knowing where to go for hepatitis prevention, treatment, and care resources. Help‑4‑Hep is a non-profit toll-free helpline for individuals and health care providers who need help with hepatitis C. The national warmline peer counselors pride themselves on helping people access and navigate screening, care, and treatment for hepatitis C. The Help-4-Hep peer counselors have over 100 years of combined experience and are trained to provide information to people from all financial, educational, and geographical backgrounds.
The Help-4-Hep line is eliminating hepatitis C, one client at a time
- Robin Lord Smith, Peer Counselor and Operations Manager
Not only do the peer counselors provide a comforting voice of support, but they also have collected resources and information to refer callers to:
- a doctor,
- free or low-cost testing,
- support groups,
- financial help paying for medication, even for people who are uninsured, and much more.
Help-4-Hep has resources readily available for people who are: insured, uninsured, uncured, cured, and those that might be at risk. All of the issues that come from the lack of knowledge about hepatitis can be avoided by helping people understand their status then help them decide what to do next. What makes this resource so unique is the ability to educate, advocate, and promote all just over the phone. The conversations are personalized to every caller’s unique story, guaranteeing that each caller will receive information that is specifically useful to their situation. The one-on-one sessions with peer counselors, many of who have personal experience in dealing with hepatitis C, catalyze the creation of connections within the hepatitis community. Help-4-Hep Peer Counselor and Operations Manager, Robin Lord Smith, said, “When people call, they get someone who cares, and they know it.”
Unfortunately, there are still many obstacles that Help-4-Hep faces in their efforts to increase the number of people being tested and treated for hepatitis C. According to Ms. Lord Smith, access to treatment has continued to be a common barrier for those seeking help. Far too often, the barrier is access to insurance, which often determines who is able to get tested or treated at even the most basic community clinics. Help-4-Hep works to eliminate barriers by continuing to provide accurate and meaningful information to the people who face these obstacles through their warmline and by strongly advocating for proactive actions towards eliminating hepatitis, rather than reactive responses.
How can others benefit from Help-4-Hep’s work? The helpline is a great resource for anyone who is affected by hepatitis C, at any level. Health care providers seeking to care for their uninsured clients can get coaching to identify local partners, strategies to expand HCV treatment, and national resources that can help them build sustainable solutions such as national testing programs, educational and treatment access resources. Providing the Help-4-Hep helpline number to newly diagnosed patients, or even to clients and patients during outreach, can be extremely helpful in guiding people in the right direction toward hepatitis C care and treatment.
For more information on Help-4-Hep, call the Helpline: 877-HELP-4-HEP (877-435-7443). Visit their website to learn more about Help-4-Hep and the people that make it work: http://www.help4hep.org/.
Stay tuned for additional blog posts in the Mapping Hepatitis Elimination in Action blog series and learn from others across the nation.
Related pages and posts:
Help4Hep works to help uninsured individuals gain access to #HepC care, eliminating #hepatitis C, one client at a time https://go.usa.gov/xpgJE