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Cherokee Nation Praised For Battling Hepatitis C - KOAM TV 7

Cherokee Nation Praised For Battling Hepatitis C

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The Oklahoma-based Cherokee Nation is receiving praise as a model for its aggressive program to test for and treat hepatitis C.
The tribe has screened more than half its target of 80,000 citizens for the potentially fatal liver disease. The tribe says it has a 90 percent cure rate.
The Cherokee nation is one of the largest Native American tribes and operates the largest tribal health care system in the U.S. The system pays patients' costs.
Federal health officials say the initiative could serve as a national model for communities on how to find financial backing for similar plans and setting a goal for eliminating the disease that can take decades to show symptoms.
Hepatitis C is spread through infected blood, and hundreds tested positive for the disease in the Cherokee program after injecting drugs with unclean needles. Tribal health officials blame the nation's opioid crisis for the increase in those cases. When prescription pills run out, many addicts turn to the streets for cheaper and more readily available drugs such as heroin, which is often injected directly into veins.
    
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in 2016 that hepatitis C killed more people than HIV and tuberculosis combined. 

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