YRGCARE in collaboration with SHALOM is pleased to announce the launch of a zero-interest “Pay it Forward” HCV treatment program with a special focus on people who use drugs (PWUD) in Aizawl.
India is estimated to be home to over 6 million HCV infected persons who are in need of treatment. Despite the introduction of generic HCV therapy in 2015, uptake has been sub-optimal primarily due to costs and non-availability of infrastructure for laboratory testing required to deliver treatment.
While prevalence in the general population is low, burden of HCV is several fold higher among drug using populations – in Aizawl, prevalence among drug using populations is upwards of 60%.
YRGCARE has been partnering with SHALOM in delivering HIV care to PWUD since 2014 and an increasing request from the community is to make HCV treatment accessible. While there is a free HIV treatment program in place, there is no such program for HCV in Aizawl.
In focus groups with PWUD, it became evident that they were willing to pay for the treatment but not all at once but rather over installments over a 6-12 month period. Consequently, we have developed a zero interest finance program with substantial cost subsidazation.
When costs are recovered from a patient, a new patient is initiated on treatment – in other words, each patient’s treatment is free and he/she is paying for the treatment of his/her peer. We believe that, if sucessful, this model will provide a sustainable alternative until free programs are available nationwide.
YRGCARE strongly believes that no individual should be denied access to health care because of gender, sexual orientation, caste, creed, color or risk practice and this program is a small step in making HCV care more accessible to a population that is highly vulnerable to this disease.