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“Is everything all right?”

For Casey, this was the first time he had heard these or any words of concern in a very long time.  And these simple words – spoken by our Community Health Worker Lisa – were a turning point for Casey.

Casey first came to HIV Alliance to dispose of a box of used syringes that were left outside his apartment.  “Someone could have gotten hurt; kids could be playing.  I told myself if there was one good thing I could do, it would be to get rid of these needles.”  Casey knew he was at-risk for both HIV and Hepatitis C and returned to HIV Alliance to get tested. Casey tested positive for Hepatitis C.  Coming back to HIV Alliance and getting tested changed Casey’s life.  Casey stopped using drugs, left a very destructive relationship, and refocused on his recovery and health.

HIV Alliance began testing for Hepatitis C years ago because many people at risk for HIV were also high risk for Hepatitis C.  For someone living with both HIV and Hepatitis C, the Hepatitis will progress faster and cause more liver-related health problems than in people who only have Hepatitis C.  Identifying people who are “co-infected” is really important and the clock for these individuals is ticking much faster. Over the last four years, we have significantly expanded our Hepatitis C testing program.  Casey was one of those people that tested positive.

“HIV Alliance did more for me in 6 months than both SSI and SDS

were able to do for me in six years.”

Our community health worker, Lisa, helped Casey find housing, get connected to medical care and dental care, and get new glasses.  Casey comes regularly to our dinners and support groups for our Hepatitis C clients.  He particularly enjoys the dinners where he can meet other people who understand the barriers that he faces.  He has also reconnected with his family. 

For Casey, and other people just like him, getting “clean” and managing a chronic disease like hepatitis C, can be extremely difficult. At HIV Alliance, we understand that sometimes people make decisions—for a variety of reasons—that may not be in the best interests of their health.  We believe that people can change, move forward and be productive members of the community.  But it can be really difficult to do this on their own.  Our Hepatitis C program helps Casey and others struggling with this disease to find housing, medical care, and recovery options, understand their disease, connect with peer support, and meet their basic needs.  We have also worked with clients to obtain support for their medical treatment, without which they would not survive.

“If it weren’t for HIV Alliance, I don’t know where I would be.”

United Way has really been instrumental in the implementation of our Hepatitis C support program by providing funding for our testing and syringe exchange programs.  We believe that we share a common goal with United Way in our desire to help people find a better and healthier place in their lives.  Thank you.

~ Karen Murphy, HIV Alliance

For more information on the great work that HIV Alliance is doing in our community, visit them online.