• Engaging homeless service providers in educational efforts during a tuberculosis outbreak in Atlanta

      Nandi, Preetha; Worrell, Mary Claire; Andrews, Tom; Sales, Rose-Marie; McMichael, Jeff; Hampton, Kristen H; Goswami, Neela D.; Emory University; Georgia Department of Health; University of North Carolina (Georgia Public Health Association, 2016)
      Background: During an outbreak of tuberculosis (TB) in the homeless population of metropolitan Atlanta, education of homeless service providers (HSPs) about the implementation of local infection control measures was imperative to limiting the spread of TB and to preventing future outbreaks. Methods: By use of educational sessions and teaching posters, two interventions were designed to focus educational efforts from November 2014 to August 2015: 1) a spatially-targeted approach that identified HSPs within an area of Fulton County, GA (which includes downtown Atlanta) with high TB case density (cases per square mile) from 2009 – 2014, and 2) an organizational meeting approach that included scheduled meetings of professionals who had regular contact with homeless individuals at risk of TB infection. Results: Of the 18 HSPs targeted in the identified high-TB density area, 9 engaged in educational activities, and 9 were closed at time of contact or unreachable by email or phone. Through organizational meetings, 36 additional facilities were reached. Conclusions: The HSPs with successful contact were amenable to educational efforts, and a combination of spatially targeted and organizational meeting approaches with teaching aids was feasible in developing sustainable TB educational programs in the homeless community
    • Hepatitis C and injection drug use: Testing and linkage to care

      Sutton, Marie; Youngner, Cole; Holloway, Winona; Emory University (Georgia Public Health Association, 2016)
      Background: The recent outbreak of HIV infection in Indiana linked to injection drug use demonstrates the importance of timely HIV and Hepatitis C surveillance and rapid response to interrupt disease transmission. An estimated 2.7 – 3.9 million Americans have chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Of those, 50 – 70% are unaware of their infection. People who inject drugs account for more than half of new HCV cases. Within 5 years of beginning injection drug use, 50 – 80% of injection drug users (IDUs) become infected with HCV. Since 2007, HCV-related deaths have surpassed HIV-related deaths. CDC reported 19,368 death certificates listing HCV as a cause of death in 2013, adding that this figure represents a fraction of deaths attributable to HCV. Method: Imagine Hope, supported by a grant from a pharmaceutical company, initiated HCV rapid testing in April 2015. The Georgia-wide project includes 10 agencies serving substance-using populations, including 4 methadone clinics. The project offers free, routine HCV testing and linkage to care. Results: Over the first 12 months of testing, 3,226 clients received HCV antibody testing. Of those, 344 (10.7%) were HCV antibody positive (Ab+), with 186 completing confirmatory RNA testing. Confirmatory tests yielded 132 (71%) RNA positive cases; 56 (42.4%) of these were linked to care. Five clients have achieved sustained viral load suppression which is considered a cure for hepatitis C. Numerous others have begun direct acting antiviral regimens. Conclusion: HCV testing in substance abuse facilities is feasible. Among substance users, HCV prevalence is high and awareness of infection risk is low. Linkage to care is enhanced by the use of a navigator. RNA screening prior to the 1st medical appointment expedites linkage to care; RNA positive clients are more motivated to keep appointments and RNA negative clients do not clog an already burdened system of care for the uninsured.