In spontaneous remarks during his State of the State address
last week, Gov. Paul LePage tied these immigrants to a costly uptick in
hepatitis C, HIV and tuberculosis.
“But this is the problem with some of the illegals that are
here today,” the governor said. “When a refugee comes here from a
foreign country, they get a medical assessment and we know their health.
But when they are here illegally, they don’t get medical assessments.
In spontaneous remarks during his State of the State address last week, Gov. Paul LePage tied these immigrants to a costly uptick in hepatitis C, HIV and tuberculosis.
“But this is the problem with some of the illegals that are here today,” the governor said. “When a refugee comes here from a foreign country, they get a medical assessment and we know their health. But when they are here illegally, they don’t get medical assessments.
Intravenous drug use has surged in the United States over the last
decade. Though media narratives around the uptick tend to focus on crime
rates or overdose, the risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis C through
used needles is also a major public health concern. And thanks to
restrictive laws and limited health-care options, halting the spread of
these infections is often a losing battle—one that puts poor women in
particularly high danger. Yet Congress still refuses to provide the
federal funding that could be key to combating this crisis.
Many intravenous substance users are at heightened risk of
contracting HIV or hepatitis C from sex work or sexual
violence. According to a 2010 study
by the Reference Group to the United Nations on HIV and Injecting Drug
Use, between 15 and 66 percent who use injection drugs engage in sex
work. Daniel Raymond, the policy director at the Oakland,
California-based Harm Reduction Coalition, noted that clients often
offer to pay sex workers more for unprotected sex. He also added that in
some places, law enforcement can point to condoms as evidence of
prostitution, which discourages sex workers from carrying them.
An Ottawa woman died of complications from hepatitis C because she could not
afford a lifesaving drug that the province does not yet cover, her family says.
Brenda Peever, 60, was hospitalized on Nov. 2 with late-stage liver cirrhosis
and died two days later. She could not afford the newly approved drug, Sovaldi,
which has a 90 per cent cure rate.
Health Canada approved Sovaldi in January, but it is not yet covered by the
Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). Peever’s doctors had told her that she
was a good candidate for the drug, which costs $654 per pill.
a study of 574 low-income adults, many felt stigmatized when receiving
medical care. This stigma was most often the result of interactions with
clinicians that felt demeaning, rather than an internalized sense of
shame related to receiving public insurance or charity care.
stigma was associated with unmet health needs, poorer perceptions of
quality of care, and worse self-reported health.
judged by providers was associated with higher reports of unmet
physical and mental health needs and declining health, even though
people who reported stigma were on average using as much care as those
who didn’t share this experience,” said Dr. Heidi Allen, lead author of
the Milbank Quarterly study. “Medicaid or poverty-related
stigma can be thought of as a barrier to accessing quality health care,
dampening the effect of the resources invested in getting people insured
through Medicaid expansions.”
Greece’s government has failed to provide medication for hepatitis
patients. This represents a ‘lurking danger’ for public health,
according to the leading voluntary health clinic in the country.
to the Metropolitan Community Clinic at Elliniko, Athens, eight
uninsured patients with hepatitis B and C are facing dire complications,
because they no longer can afford to purchase their expensive
“Unfortunately, our clinic cannot provide these patients with the
extremely expensive medication that they need, without fail. So these
people are facing dire complications and there is a lurking danger that
they may transmit their disease to others as well. It is a problem that
seriously affects public health,” the clinic said, according to the newspaper Enet.
The clinic accused the Greek health ministry of engaging in an
“astonishingly irresponsible policy” over its failure to provide urgent
medicines for people with serious and contagious diseases like
years ago, Donna Risso and her friend Michael were living under a
bridge in New Orleans. They were struggling not only with homelessness,
but also with Donna’s mounting health problems, which included hepatitis
C, cirrhosis of the liver, encephalitis, pancreatitis and chronic
anemia. Donna was a “frequent flyer” at the emergency room, often five
to 10 times a month, but her health was getting steadily worse.
using federal and state resources helped Donna find housing and got her
on a state program called “disability Medicaid,” which covers health
care costs for people who meet federal disability criteria but are not
yet on the federal program. This important initiative, common in many
states, is a bridge to health services for people applying for federal
benefits, which can take years.