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San Francisco Hepatitis C Task Force Issues Recommendations

The San Francisco Hepatitis C Task Force issued a final report in late January, calling on the city to take steps to improve prevention, care, and treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Among the recommendations are expanded testing, establishment of a hepatitis C coordinator within the Department of Public Health, developing education and awareness campaigns, and opening a supervised safe infection facility.

Below is the text of a press release issued by the Task Force summarizing its recommendations. The full report is available online at

San Francisco Hepatitis C Task Force Releases Recommendations for Fighting Epidemic

San Francisco -- January 24, 2011 -- The San Francisco Hepatitis C Task Force today released a report expressing grave concern about the hepatitis C epidemic in the City and outlining a series of recommendations for the Mayor and Board of Supervisors to mount a comprehensive effort to fight the disease.

The report, entitled "Recommendations for Strategically Addressing Hepatitis C in San Francisco" is the result of a year-long process by the Task Force to identify gaps to addressing hepatitis C in San Francisco and create a set of strategic directions for San Francisco to have an immediate impact in the following areas of hepatitis C: Research and Surveillance; Prevention, Education, Awareness and Testing; Care and Treatment; and Public Policy. The report can be viewed at

Some recommendations in the document include: establishing a hepatitis C coordinator position at the San Francisco Department of Public Health; ensuring full access to hepatitis C treatment and care through Healthy San Francisco; developing citywide educational/awareness campaigns; and creating a pilot legal supervised injection facility as part of a comprehensive hepatitis C prevention strategy. The report is dedicated to the memory of Randy Allgaier, who served as the Task Force's co-chair until his untimely death in November 2010.

"This report highlights significant gaps in services for people like me living with hepatitis C and others at risk of infection," said Dominique Leslie, Task Force Co-Chair. "We urge Mayor Lee and the Board of Supervisors to take swift action to implement our recommendations."

The Task Force was convened in September, 2009, by then-Mayor Gavin Newsom and includes over 30 advocates, medical and social service providers, public health officials, and people living with hepatitis C. The group was formed in response to growing concern about the hepatitis C epidemic in the City. There are an estimated 12,000 San Franciscans infected with hepatitis C, with most not aware of their status.

The disease disproportionately affects African-Americans, Latinos, veterans, people involved with the criminal justice system, injection drug users, men who have sex with men, people with HIV, immigrants, and low-income people. Hepatitis C can lead to liver disease, cirrhosis, liver cancer, liver failure and death. In January of 2010, the Institutes of Medicine (IOM) released a national report highlighting the severity of the hepatitis B and C epidemics in the United States and calling on public officials to participate in efforts to prevent, control, and care for the diseases.

"Hepatitis C is a growing epidemic that puts a significant burden on our public health and medical systems," said Todd Frederick, MD, of California Pacific Medical Center Department of Transplantation and Task Force member. "The lifetime cost of treating one person with hepatitis C is estimated to be between $100,000 and $300,000. Those who go untreated face increased risks of developing cirrhosis and liver cancer, and the cost for a liver transplant, for which HCV is the leading cause, is estimated at $500,000. By implementing the Task Force's recommendations, San Francisco has a unique opportunity to prevent new infections and save money for the City, provide care and treatment for those living with hepatitis C, prevent long-term complications of the disease and be a leader in the national fight against this disease."

The San Francisco Hepatitis C Task Force will continue as a community coalition focused on advocating for full implementation of all recommendations and educating public officials, medical and social service providers, at-risk communities, and the general public about hepatitis C and its impact on San Francisco. For more information about the Task Force, visit



San Francisco Hepatitis C Task Force. San Francisco Hepatitis C Task Force Releases Recommendations for Fighting Epidemic. Press release. January 24, 2011.