UK study to treat people in Perry County with Hep C at no cost to them

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PERRY COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT)- On Tuesday, University of Kentucky researchers provided an update on the launch of the $15 million Kentucky Viral Hepatitis Treatment (KeY Treat) study. The study's goal is to rid the Hepatitis C virus in Perry County, where an estimated 900 people are living with the infection.

“Drug use, and injection drug use in particular, is the major mode of transmission for hepatitis C,” said UK College of Medicine Professor and leader of KeY Treat Jennifer Havens.

The program is treating anyone 18 years or older, who live in Perry County, for free. Screening for KeY Treat began back in September. More than 120 people have been treated, and Havens’ said the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I was down here last week, and we had a participant (crying) happy tears because this is the first time that she had been treated so respectfully, and like a human being,” explained Havens.

She went on to say that some people are turned down, or do not have easy access to treatment because of their drug use.

“We were actually able to take care of her Hepatitis C. It's been so heartening to be a part of this study,” said Havens.

Researchers are hopeful the study will have positive results, so they can use the easy-access model in other communities.

“It is a problem here in the community and I think it is great that we can work together to fix that problem,” said President and CEO of ARH Joe Grossman.

The $15 million funding is from the National Cancer Institute and National Institute on Drug Abuse, combine with donations of treatments from Gilead Pharmaceuticals.

If you suspect you have been exposed to Hep C you can be screen at the Hazard ARH Medical Mall. There is a clinic set up specifically for the study.

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