Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) has been awarded $351,289 by Gilead Sciences to develop a model program that embodies best practices in the screening of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Hepatitis B and C virus (HBV and HCV).
The award is provided through Gilead’s Frontlines of Communities in the United States (FOCUS) Program. The grant application described that a growing body of research has shown that opt-out testing can play a strong role in getting more individuals tested, extending earlier and better care to people who have been infected, improving their quality of life and promoting better disease management.
In light of the 2006 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations for routine opt-out HIV testing, the 2012 CDC recommendations for HCV screening, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations for routine HIV, HCV and HBV screening, and other recognized best practices, ECMC will work to develop and promote a replicable model program that embody uses these recommendations and best practices in screening and testing for the viruses.
“We are thankful to Gilead for this grant, which will enable ECMC to better serve patients and improve their quality of life. The Centers for Disease Control and U.S. Preventive Services recommendations, backed by this key support from Gilead, will help our caregivers to more effectively address the health and wellness needs of these patient populations throughout western New York,” Thomas J. Quatroche Jr., PhD, ECMC president and chief executive officer, said in a press release.
“These dollars will enable us to develop a program structured to deal with the current gap in care caused by the inability to identify and ultimately treat many HIV-, Hep C- and Hep B-infected individuals,” added Ellen O’Brien, ECMC Immunodeficiency Program manager.
Gilead launched the FOCUS Program in 2010 to address one of the most pressing problems driving HIV and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) transmissions. At the time, it was estimated that one in five HIV-positive Americans, or approximately 230,000 people, didn’t know they were infected.
FOCUS was further expanded in 2013 to include HCV, and again in 2015 to include HBV, as a result of both the CDC and the USPSTF recommendations for testing those viruses.
Today, FOCUS is a partner of more than 100 healthcare institutions, government agencies and community stakeholders to make routine HIV, HCV and HBV screening a standard of care practice, to reduce the number of undiagnosed individuals, to decrease the number of late diagnoses and ensure strong linkage to care and treatment, to expand open dialogue about the viruses, and to change public perceptions and overcome stigma.