Reaching Out to the HCV Community
Our first endeavor was to establish a support group in San Francisco specifically for HCV positive people and because of the need we also began a support group for people who were coinfected with HIV and hepatitis C. The following year we introduced HCV informational meetings in San Francisco and helped other HCV positive people from around the San Francisco Bay Area start their support groups.
The level of information on HCV in 1997 was minimal, with more misinformation than quality information available to the HCV community. Our goal was to provide high quality materials that were accessible and easy to understand. We wanted to help people understand HCV so that they could advocate for themselves and others and make educated decisions regarding management and treatment of HCV. The first material developed was the HCV Informational Packet. We designed the packet in copy-ready format and encouraged individuals and agencies to reprint it as needed. In addition to the HCV information packet, we have developed many other materials to help providers, support staff, and patients support and educate other affected by with hepatitis C.
Extending Education – The HCV Advocate Newsletter
In 1997, HCSP decided that there was a need for an HCV patient newsletter to specifically address the unique needs of our community. The HCV Advocate newsletter was launched in January 1998. Our goal was to provide unbiased information to help people make educated healthcare decisions. The first couple of issues contained only articles reprinted from other organizations. Soon thereafter, we began producing original articles geared toward people with HCV. The newsletter is designed to meet the needs of providers, support staff, patients, and their families. The HCV Advocate quickly grew in size and stature, and is now considered one of the most informative and respected HCV publications in the U.S.
Establishing an Online Presence – The HCV Advocate Web Site
In 1998, HCSP determined that another unmet need for people with HCV was a Web site that focused on quality education, advocacy, and support for the HCV community. The HCV Advocate Web site began operation in January 1999. It started with a minimum of information but grew quickly in size and content to become a valuable resource for patients and healthcare providers. The success of the Web site stems from the fact that HCSP continually adds and expands the site with new educational content and tools. In September 2015, we redesign our Website to improve navigation and content. In 2015, our Website traffic averages 600,000 hits a week
Online and Beyond – Trainings
Based on a needs assessment by our agency in 2001, we decided that an essential resource required was a quality HCV education that could be widely distributed and utilized throughout areas impacted by HCV. To accomplish this objective, we designed two programs that would educate patients and providers and train individuals to themselves become HCV educators in their respective communities. Since the program’s inception, HCSP has certified over 17,000 individuals from across the United States (and Mexico) as basic HCV educators.
The goal of the HCSP training workshops is to provide unbiased and quality education to the HCV community as well as to the general public. Our vision is that HCSP’s training workshops will provide certified HCV educators for local agencies so that they can educate and support the communities affected by hepatitis C and HCV coinfections