The GSBA Blog


The Hepatitis Education Project: Working to eliminate viral hepatitis in the U.S. by 2030

by Jason Sterne
| Aug 24, 2018
This week, we’re welcoming a new GSBA member nonprofit, the Hepatitis Education Project (HEP). Join us in welcoming HEP to the GSBA family!

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The Hepatitis Education Project (HEP) is a Seattle-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works primarily with underserved and marginalized populations, and for 25 years HEP has been a leader in addressing the public health burden created by viral hepatitis.

HEP was started in 1993 by a group of patients and medical professionals who wanted to provide support and education to others living with viral hepatitis.

In February of 2000, HEP opened one of the only Hepatitis Resource Centers in the country, a walk-in and telephone support center for hepatitis patients and family members. Over the past 25 years, HEP’s programs have evolved to focus on communities that are disproportionately impacted by the disease. These populations include people with low incomes; people who are uninsured or underinsured; people experiencing homelessness and/or housing instability; people who inject drugs; incarcerated or formerly incarcerated individuals; and immigrant and refugee communities.

Today, HEP conducts hepatitis education to incarcerated individuals in every WA state prison and outreaches to over 50 locations in the state, conducting more than 1500 hepatitis C tests a year. HEP’s hepatitis C medical case management program is one of the most robust in the country, and their advocacy work at the city, state and federal level has bolstered some big policy wins, including the removal of treatment restrictions in WA that were not evidence-based and causing unnecessary progression of the disease.


HEP is celebrating its 25th year anniversary this year. We are having a celebration event on September 29th2018, 5:30pm at Bell Harbor Conference Center, 2211 Alaskan Way, Seattle WA. 


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The mortality rate from complications related to hepatitis C has surpassed that of HIV in the US, and there are an estimated 100,000 people living with hepatitis C in WA State. For many years HEP has advocated for the need of a public health strategy to eliminate the virus in the state. Now, aligned with the World Health Organization’s targeted goal to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public threat by 2030, jurisdictions across the U.S. have begun to take concrete steps towards viral hepatitis elimination.

The tools currently exist to do so. There are highly effective cures for hepatitis C and vaccines available for hepatitis B. Treatment costs have dramatically reduced so that it is now more cost-effective to treat and cure than it is to manage the liver damage caused by the disease.

We are close in WA State. With hope, WA State agencies, legislature and Governor’s office will follow in the footsteps of states like NY and agree on a plan to eliminate the virus. If passed, HEP’s work will be instrumental in serving some of the most vulnerable populations in our state.

If we don’t act now, countless more lives will be lost. We CAN eliminate viral hepatitis in our lifetime, averting about 90,000 deaths in the United States by 2030. 

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What does 'equality is good business' mean to you?

HEP prefers to talk about equality and equity together. Equality works when there is a level playing field. Equity means for things to be equal, some communities may need additional support or resources. This is extremely important for the populations HEP serves. Overcoming barriers and addressing determinants of health that negatively affect many marginalized communities, is vital for making that level playing field, so things can be equal.


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Why did you decide to become a GSBA member?

Hepatitis C disproportionality affects the MSM community and being coinfected with HIV more than triples the risk for liver disease, liver failure and liver-related death. HEP partners with LGBTQ health and service organizations in our outreach programming as many don’t understand the risk or know how to protect themselves from exposure.

It was important for HEP to become a GSBA member as we need to raise awareness about the silent disease impacting our community. HEP also values inclusion, self-expression, and social justice, which are all values of GSBA, so it was a natural fit.


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HEP is celebrating its 25th year anniversary this year. We are having a celebration event on September 29th, 2018, 5:30pm at Bell Harbor Conference Center, 2211 Alaskan Way, Seattle WA. 

We are looking to the GSBA membership to join us at the celebration event or support HEP’s mission through sponsorship or donation to our auction. HEP is a 501c3 organization registered in the State of Washington. www.hepeducation.org