Since 2004, the Hepatitis Education Project has contracted with the Washington State Department of Corrections to deliver hepatitis C and blood borne infections classes to offenders at all prisons and work camps in Washington State. The program has been very well received by both the offender population and correctional staff, and has been viewed as a model program by other state departments of corrections. In November, 2005, our program was featured at the National Conference on Correctional Health Care in Denver, Colorado.
Our program consists of hepatitis C and blood borne infection education for offenders. Classes are given at the main intake facilities for men and women entering the Washington State Department of Corrections and 12 other state prisons and work camps. Our curriculum addresses a range of issues relevant to the diverse developmental and cultural composition found in correctional populations, and includes the following:
- Modes of disease transmission, methods for prevention, including risk reduction and immunization, disease outcomes, and options for treatment
- Tools needed to avoid behaviors that result in acquisition of hepatitis, HIV, and other blood borne and sexually transmitted infections
- Resources for offenders upon release, including links with community and public health facilities
- Counseling for persons with chronic HBV or HCV infection regarding preventing transmission to household, sexual, and drug-use contacts, including risk reduction and condom use; these persons will also be counseled regarding ways to reduce further liver damage, including limiting alcohol and drug use