For more information contact: Boonshoft School of Medicine, Judi Engle, Office of Public Relations, (937) 775-2951

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 8, 2006

Addressing our Hepatitis C Epidemic

DAYTON, OH--The Community Health Initiative Planning Committee starts work today on a community needs assessment and strategic plan to reduce Hepatitis C, substance abuse, and HIV/AIDS in Montgomery County.

This initiative is critical because it will comprehensively address the growing Hepatitis C epidemic in the county and the connected challenges of HIV and substance abuse. "Hepatitis is a silent killer," says Rev. Carlton Williams, who will lead the Community Health Initiative Planning Committee. "It's time to change the dialogue in Dayton and include hepatitis prevention in the conversation."

Although Montgomery County ranks fourth highest for the number of infections in theHepatitis State's 88 counties, there is limited community awareness about the impact of HEP C on our community. African American men and women are disproportionately represented in HEP C cases. According to Ohio Department of Health statistics, the majority of Ohioans with HEP C are unaware of their condition or the risk factors that contribute to acquiring the disease. These risk factors include: injection drug use, tattooing and body piercings, blood transfusions, organ transplantation, kidney dialysis, multiple sex partners, liver disease, and occupational exposures. Children of HEP C-positive mothers and persons who have been incarcerated are populations at high risk.

The Community Health Initiative is being funded by a five-year, $1.2 M grant awarded to the Substance Abuse Resources and Disability Issues program (SARDI), a component of the Center for Interventions, Treatment and Addictions Research at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration awarded 81 grants nationally and one other in Ohio.

"This project is particularly exciting because it will increase our community's ability to provide prevention information about the diseases that have the most devastating impact, especially for persons who are most at risk," says Dennis Moore, Ed.D., associate professor of community health and SARDI's director. SARDI has a long history of providing minority-focused health and substance abuse services in collaboration with the community.

"We are committed to working with others to improve the health of our community," adds Howard Part, M.D., dean of the medical school. "This project is another example of how our community works together to solve problems and garners the resources necessary to do so."

The strategic plan will bring together several community partners and take advantage of community assets, such as a new mobile outreach van, which provides screening, testing, and referrals at the neighborhood level. Community partners include the Montgomery County Combined Health District, the AIDS Resource Center of Ohio, the Dayton Urban League, Montgomery County Probation and Parole, two faith-based organizations, The Other Place, and the Montgomery County Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Services Board. The Dayton Urban League will work with high-risk populations, particularly individuals recently released from prisons and jails.