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University Health awarded $1.7 million to fight liver cancer

May 24, 2021

Treating hep C the most effective way to prevent liver cancer in South Texas, which has the highest incidence in the nation.

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute (CPRIT) last week awarded University Health $1.7 million to expand hepatitis C screening in the Rio Grande Valley and help get hep-C patients to care, as well as improve health literacy and increase outreach in the region.

The program, called Hep C-C.A.R.E. (Colonias Advancing and Restoring Esperanza), is an expansion of University Health’s current successful liver cancer prevention program and hepatitis C screening model, HepVISTA.

South Texans have the highest incidence of liver cancer in the United States, and the incidence of liver cancer in Hispanic Texans is also higher than all other ethnic groups. Screening, treating and preventing Hepatitis C Virus is the most effective way to prevent liver cancer.

This grant will continue the mission to reduce the health disparities experienced by predominantly rural and medically underserved communities. The effort is aligned with a national goal to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030, announced by the White House on Tuesday.

The Hep C-C.A.R.E. program is led by Dr. Roberto Villarreal, University Health Senior Vice President and Chief Analytics Officer, and Dr. Anna Taranova, Deputy Vice President of Research and Healthcare Innovation. They will partner with Gateway Community Health Center, Inc. and Mid Rio Grande Border - Area Health Education Center in the Rio Grande Valley. The Hep C-C.A.R.E. team will work with Gateway to expand HCV screening to a greater number of patients, navigate individuals to care, and, in partnership with the Area Health Education Center, improve health literacy through education and community outreach. Hep C-C.A.R.E. will decrease health disparities and reduce incidence and mortality rates associated with liver cancer in the border region, provide education, increase screening for hepatitis B and C viruses, and providing hepatitis A and B vaccinations to the region’s underserved population.

All grants and CPRIT announcements are listed here: www.cprit.texas.gov/news-events/articles/cancer-prevention-research-institute-of-texas-awards-695-million-in-new-grants.

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