Hepatitis C can be Cured — Let’s Make it Happen

By Frankie Snow and Suzy Subways

From PHN Issue 46, Spring/Summer 2021

Getting access to hepatitis C testing and treatment continues to be an unfair fight for those in prison. About one-third of people living with hep C in the U.S. are incarcerated, but most states don’t offer testing in prison to let people know if they have the hep C virus. You may need to ask for a hep C test—and then ask again to make sure you get your test results. Most people who have hep C don’t know it, so testing is very important. Sometimes the symptoms don’t show up until a person’s liver is badly damaged, which may be many years after they got the virus. Prison health officials often don’t want to test for hep C because they might have to pay for treatment if the test comes back positive. Everyone who has chronic hep C, meaning they’ve had it for more than six months, must be given medication.

Before COVID-19 came along, hep C was the No. 1 killer out of all the infectious diseases. But drug companies are allowed to set whatever price they want to charge for the medications to cure it, because we live in a society that values profit over people. The cost of treatment and money-minded politicians have meant that many corrections departments across the U.S. have refused to pay for the treatment to save people’s lives. The medications, which cure almost all cases of hep C, are called direct-acting antivirals (DAAs). The cost of DAAs is different from state to state, ranging from $10,000 to $30,000, according to Mandy Altman of the National Hepatitis Corrections Network.

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“There’s People Like Myself and Others Out Here Fighting for You”

An interview with activist and longtime Prison Health News editor Teresa Sullivan

By Suzy Subways

From PHN Issue 40, Summer/Fall 2019

Teresa Sullivan, who has been a vital part of keeping Prison Health News going for the past ten years, is leaving the editorial collective. We are overwhelmed with gratitude for her wisdom and guidance over the years, and we are so excited to support her amazing work in the world moving forward. From teaching classes at Philadelphia FIGHT to her leadership role in the Positive Women’s Network, a social justice organization of women living with HI V , T eresa helps so many people grow stronger and smarter . In this interview, we asked Teresa to tell us more about her work and vision. Continue reading ““There’s People Like Myself and Others Out Here Fighting for You””

Second issue of Turn It Up! prison health magazine now available

Our sister publication, Turn It Up! Staying Strong Inside, has just released its second issue! This is a beautiful, detailed and comprehensive resource for people in prison about how to survive, thrive and advocate for their health. Turn It Up! is published by the SERO Project.

You can read it online here and order a copy for your loved one in prison here.

Visit TheBody for a wonderful interview with the editors.

Good News Comes Slowly on Access to Hepatitis C Medications

By Suzy Subways

From PHN Issue 39, Winter/Spring 2019

Very few people in prison who are living with hepatitis C are getting medication to treat and cure it — only 3%, according to a Columbia University survey released last year. But this is changing, slowly. California passed a budget to treat 22,000 people living with hep C in prison. People in Indiana, Massachusetts, Colorado and Pennsylvania prisons won class-action lawsuit settlements requiring the states to provide treatment in prison for everyone with chronic hepatitis C. And lawsuits in many other states are ongoing. Continue reading “Good News Comes Slowly on Access to Hepatitis C Medications”

Taking Care of Yourself When You Have Hepatitis C

by Karon Hicks and Seth Lamming

From PHN Issue 39, Winter/Spring 2019

Hepatitis C is a disease of the liver that is caused by a virus spread through blood. It is most commonly transmitted through shared needles or other equipment during injection drug use. You can also get hep C by being tattooed or pierced in prison or using other people’s personal care items like razors that may have infected blood on them. The risk for hep C transmission through sexual contact is low, but the risk increases if you have HIV, multiple partners, or a sexually transmitted illness. In general, anyone who has ever injected drugs, had a blood transfusion before 1992, or was born between 1945 and 1965 should request testing for hepatitis C. Continue reading “Taking Care of Yourself When You Have Hepatitis C”

The Hep C Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual

By Mumia Abu-Jamal, with the assistance of the Abolitionist Law Center in Pittsburgh, PA

From PHN Issue 37, Summer 2018

This manual is designed to walk any person infected with hepatitis C through the obstacle courses erected by medical staff and prison officials who seek to deny or delay hepatitis C treatment which leads to a cure from the infection. Continue reading “The Hep C Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual”

There’s a Way to Eliminate Hepatitis C, but Is There a Will?

By Suzy Subways

From PHN Issue 35, Winter 2018

As many as four out of every ten people incarcerated in state prisons are living with hepatitis C, the US Department of Health and Human Services reports. But fewer than one out of every hundred people in prison living with chronic hepatitis C are getting treatment, according to Mandy Altman of the Hepatitis Education Project. Prisons are refusing to provide treatment even though there is now a cure. Drug companies have been allowed to set extremely high prices, because we live under a free-market economic system, and states lack the money to pay. Continue reading “There’s a Way to Eliminate Hepatitis C, but Is There a Will?”

HIV and Hepatitis C Co-Infection

By Lucy Gleysteen

From PHN Issue 35, Winter 2018

Finding out that you have both HIV and hepatitis C can be difficult. Some people can be living with HIV and/or hepatitis C and not know their status because it sometimes takes a long time for symptoms to appear. If you think you might have contracted HIV or hepatitis C, you can ask your doctor to provide testing. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services guidelines, prisons should provide testing. Continue reading “HIV and Hepatitis C Co-Infection”

Tips for Hepatitis C Prevention

By Lucy Gleysteen

From PHN Issue 33, Summer 2017

Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. There are different kinds of hepatitis (A, B, C, D, and E). Hepatitis C is a disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (hep C), which lives in the blood and affects the liver. The liver is the body’s filter and processing plant. Often, when people are infected with hep C, they do not develop any symptoms. Rarely, soon after infection, some people will develop an upset stomach, flu-like symptoms, dark urine, grey-colored stool, joint pain, and yellow skin. Out of everyone living with hep C, 75% to 85% will remain infected until they take curative treatment. Only 15% to 25% of people infected with the virus are able to clear it on their own. Long-term or chronic hep C infection can increase an individual’s risk for liver scarring (cirrhosis), liver cancer, and liver failure. Continue reading “Tips for Hepatitis C Prevention”

Safety and After-care for Prison Tattoos

By Tracey Hamilton

From PHN Issue 32, Spring 2017

The primary fear most people express about getting tattooed in prison is that they may contract the HIV virus, which may cause AIDS. HIV is only one of many viruses that can be transmitted. Syphilis, tuberculosis, strep, staph, and hepatitis are just a few of the other diseases to take into consideration. Continue reading “Safety and After-care for Prison Tattoos”