New Jersey Should Provide Hepatitis C Treatment for Prisoners, Inquirer Editorial States
New Jersey should "act fast" to provide treatment for inmates who are infected with hepatitis C, a Philadelphia Inquirer editorial states. A recent Inquirer series on the hepatitis C epidemic in New Jersey prisons found that of the 1,170 New Jersey inmates known to be infected with hepatitis C, only one is receiving treatment. In addition, some individuals had their treatment discontinued upon incarceration. "The public health hazard alone should get the attention of New Jersey leaders who have felt little pressure before to worry about treating inmates for hepatitis C," the editorial states. New Jersey prison policy does not require testing inmates for the virus, but the state should begin testing inmates who exhibit symptoms of the disease, the editorial says. The editorial also recommends that all prisoners receive education regarding how hepatitis C is transmitted. The Inquirer says that the cost of hepatitis C medicine has been a "deterrent" to the implementation of treatment because the state is facing a fiscal shortfall and because prisons often negotiate private contracts for health care. "But the cost will be felt sooner or later if hepatitis C among prisoners is ignored, be it for individuals' treatment, or for the far-more-expensive scenario of the epidemic spreading still more in the general public," the editorial states. New Jersey Corrections Commissioner Devon Brown should issue "clear directives" on hepatitis C treatment to prison health care providers, the editorial states, concluding, "The wisest and only humane policy is to pay now" for hepatitis C treatment in prisons (Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.