Ninety-seven percent of prisoners with the disease are unable to access proper medical care in correctional facilities across the country.
In April of 2010, Sean tested positive for the hepatitis C virus (HCV) in Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center. Aged 37, he had been an injection drug user since 1980, when he was 17. Even though his results implied that he would benefit from treatment, Sean was not started on the standard regimen—technically termed “pegylated interferon and ribavirin therapy”—that would have required between 24 to 48 weeks to complete. That was due to the circumstances in which he arrived at Harborview: He had just been arrested, and was brought to the hospital before being transferred to the King County Jail.
Sean lived with untreated hepatitis C for the next five years, until 2015. And that wasn’t down to a lack of interest on his part. “I wanted to get treatment,” he recalls in a phone call with Filter. But a series of cumbersome bureaucratic procedures eventually prevented him from receiving care while in prison.