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Type of submission: Oral
Conference track: Practice
Topics: Harm Reduction Services and Service Provision; Peer-Driven Treatment, Care and Harm Reduction
Presenting author: Michael Selick
Michael Selick, Hiawatha Collins
For the past 3 years, Harm Reduction Coalition has partnered with the 15 syringe exchange programs in New York City to develop a hepatitis C Peer Navigation program. With funding from the New York City Council, each syringe exchange was able to hire 2 peer navigators to work with program participants who are living with HCV. This panel will present on the Harm Reduction Coalition work to educate peers to give them the tools they need to empower themselves to help members of their community navigate the barriers to hepatitis C treatment. We provide the peers with 3 full days of training focused on harm reduction messaging, basic understanding of HCV, and how to use Motivational Interviewing to help participants resolve their ambivalence about HCV treatment. Through the training series, peers become effective advocates helping the people they serve navigate the significant barriers to accessing HCV treatment. Peers help participants connect with non-stigmatizing medical care, advocate with insurance companies who don't want to pay for expensive medication until their health declines and/or they abstain from drug use, and support participants through the entire process. In addition to their direct services work, HCV peers have gotten involved in advocacy with the New York City Council to ensure the funding for the program continues as well as advocacy with the New York State government to increase access to HCV treatments and harm reduction services.