AVOL Kentucky Receives $112,000 from Harm Reduction Coalition in HepConnect Initiative to Respond to Rising Hepatitis C Rates in Kentucky


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                            Media Contact

                                                                                                                           Dan Koett




AVOL Kentucky Receives $112,000 from Harm Reduction Coalition in HepConnect Initiative to Respond to Rising Hepatitis C Rates in Kentucky


Lexington, Kentucky (October 2, 2019) – AVOL Kentucky announced today it is one of 32 recipients of a HepConnect grant from the Harm Reduction Coalition. Funding from this grant will be used to provide harm reduction services for people who use drugs (e.g. prevention supplies, outreach sites and support for mobile testing, and testing materials) and are at risk of contracting Hepatitis C.


Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation, sometimes leading to serious liver damage. The hepatitis C virus (HCV) spreads through contaminated blood. One of the most common ways of spreading Hepatitis C is by sharing needles, syringes, or other equipment to prepare or inject drugs.


“AVOL Kentucky greatly appreciates the opportunity to partner with the Harm Reduction Coalition and the HepConnect Initiative to greatly reduce the spread of Hepatitis C within the segments of our community who are most at risk,” said Jon Parker, executive director of AVOL Kentucky. “We are committed to implementing strategic safeguards to decrease the number of cases we’re seeing annually.”


HepConnect is a regional initiative that focuses on the intersection of hepatitis C and drug use in five key states: Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Thanks to the generous support of Gilead Sciences, Harm Reduction Coalition serves as HepConnect’s lead organization. Under the HepConnect Initiative, Harm Reduction Coalition is making investments through grant-funding, building program capacity, supporting targeted outreach and education, providing boots-on-the-ground technical assistance, and convening stakeholders to strengthen local, state, and regional partnerships.


Monique Tula, executive Director of the Harm Reduction Coalition said “Communities in regions like Appalachia, the Midwest and the South are experiencing unprecedented outbreaks of HIV, hepatitis C and overdoses from opioids. Without financial resources and legislative backing from state and federal governments, many of the hardest hit communities in these regions are unable to adapt comprehensive programs in a harm reduction framework. This is why the HepConnect program and the investment from Gilead Sciences is so critical right now. HepConnect offers not only a commitment, but a deep investment in strengthening the harm reduction infrastructure in these regions.”


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During the funding request process, more than 120 applications were reviewed, with 44 projects being awarded an 18-month funding allocation. These organizations were selected by a committee of regional and national harm reduction experts, including people with lived experience. Awards focused on projects that would have the most impact with people who inject drugs and selected grantees were required to articulate both the need and how they would include impacted communities in their projects.


For more information on HepConnect or services offered by AVOL Kentucky, please contact Matt Brewer at 859-225-3000 x1030 or matt@avolky.org.




About Harm Reduction Coalition

Harm Reduction Coalition is a national advocacy and capacity-building organization that promotes health and justice for people and communities affected by drug use. Learn more at http://harmreduction.org.


About AVOL

AVOL’s mission is to collaborate with communities to end HIV in Kentucky. AVOL currently provides housing and supportive services to over 300 low-income men and women living with HIV/AIDS in more than 70 counties in central and eastern Kentucky. AVOL operates Solomon House, a long-term permanent community residence for people with AIDS. AVOL provides free HIV and other STI testing as well as HIV prevention education and outreach to those at-risk in our communities. AVOL also serves as an important link connecting those newly diagnosed and those out of care to medical treatment and other healthcare and support resources.