As we celebrate Hepatitis Awareness Month and look toward World Hepatitis Day at the end of July, we recognize Hep C, the "silent epidemic," as it infects about 3.2 million nationally and more than 3,900 individuals in Philadelphia. Up to 75% of people with Hepatitis C do not know they are infected as the symptoms don't show for decades.

Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) has taken on this silent epidemic in Philadelphia through a new model that was created with the help of a CDC Hepatitis C Grant received through its affiliate, National Nursing Centers Consortium (NNCC) last October. The grant was administered at the PHMC health network of five Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC), where 3,710 patients (3,507 of whom didn't know their HCV status) were tested, 288 new antibody positive cases were detected, 172 chronic cases and 126 were referred for medical care to date.

In Philadelphia, PHMC's Hep C testing model has been successful due to them bundling HIV and HEP C tests; offering chronic patients with a Linkage to Care Coordinator who facilitates the transition and retention in specialist care through patient navigation, case management and care outreach; and its EMR reimbursement model to track, report and directly reimburse uninsured labs. Due to these elements, the CDC has identified PHMC's model as a best practice and is scheduled to feature in the MMWR report, which led them to help 8 health centers in Detroit, MI; Jackson, MS and Johnson City, TN replicate the program through a Gilead grant.

PHMC program Philadelphia Hepatitis Outreach Project (P-HOP), funded by Philadelphia's Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disabilities Services helps target the most vulnerable populations (baby boomers, youth, HIV and substance abuse users) in their communities. By targeting recovery centers, health fairs, homeless shelters and other PHMC program sites, last year P-HOP provided more than 400 Hepatitis C screenings. Since 2007, P-HOP conducted over 2000 screenings and assertive street outreach to 10,000 individuals in the region. Also, in recognition of National Hepatitis Month, P-HOP is hosting a HCV Treatment Training featuring Tracy Swan from Treatment Action Group.