Among people who have used or currently use intravenous drugs, one in three young adults and three in four older adults are Hepatitis C-infected.
–Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014
Between 2.5 and 3.9 million Americans are infected with hepatitis C. If left untreated, this virus typically becomes chronic and can compromise liver function. It often causes no noticeable symptoms for a long time. Identification of hepatitis C (HCV) allows for interventions that can improve patients’ quality of life for years to come, preventing chronic infections and liver disease, cirrhosis, and cancer.
Because HCV is bloodborne, healthcare professionals working with people who have injected substances intravenously need to know how to speak to their patients about it. Other factors can put a patient at risk as well. Using the techniques of Motivational Interviewing help providers and patients identify an individual’s needs and desires, and steer the patient toward intrinsically motivated positive health choices.
Several Addiction Technology Transfer Centers, including the New England ATTC, the Northeast & Caribbean ATTC, and the National SBIRT ATTC at IRETA, have collaborated to create the components of the HCV Current Initiative. It provides materials to help health professionals address patients’ needs in the evolving field of HCV treatment. Below, you will find some of its tools, starting with videos on Motivational Interviewing with patients at risk for HCV.
Learn through example by watching any of six following vignettes. Each unique scenario features a trained motivational interviewer speaking with a patient at risk for hepatitis C. The videos represent a diverse group of backgrounds and life experiences.
Through MI, the interviewers help their patients develop intrinsic motivation to receive HCV testing and to feel positive about making responsible health decision.
- Henry, age 66. He prides himself on being health conscious. Henry briefly used heroin while stationed oversees during the Vietnam war.
- Jorge, age 25. Now on methadone, Jorge engaged in sex work during his years addicted to opioids, though he doesn’t like to talk about it.
- Tony, age 30. Since breaking up with his partner, Tony has been depressed. He is concerned about an infection following unprotected sex.
- Concetta, age 26. Visiting the doctor for an unrelated injury, Concetta learns that her tattoo put her at risk for HCV.
- Eddie, age 24. A near-fatal car accident motivated Eddie to stop using intravenous heroin, and he is now doing well on Suboxone.
- Eva, age 23. A syringe found hidden in her husband’s clothes is worrying Eva. She is concerned about HIV and whether they can safely start a family.
To hone your general Motivational Interviewing skills, visit the ATTC Network Training and Events Calendar
HCV Current is a national initiative among the ATTC Regional Centers. Sponsored by SAMHSA, it aims to increase HCV knowledge among medical and behavioral health professionals, especially staff at federally qualified health centers.
Local training resources can be located via an interactive map. Select your region of the United States and find a location convenient to you that offers in-person training on HCV topics. Every state is covered by one of these regions.
For similar collections of resources and information on other substance use issues, visit our Special Topics section.
More Recommended Resources and Readings
- IRETA’s Dr. Holly Hagle writes about the importance of approaching HCV as a public health topic
- Webinar titled “Shaping Up Your Motivational Interviewing Skills,” featuring Dr. Kate Speck
- The IRETA blog reports on the rise in teens and twenty-somethings contracting HVC