RI Defeats Hep C
6th annual C is for Cure:
A WaterFire Lighting for Rhode Island Defeats Hep C
Saturday evening, August 3, 2019
RI State House in Yellow
RI State House in Yellow
for World Hepatitis Day

Hepatitis C The Silent Epidemic

Hepatitis C is a liver disease resulting from chronic infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV). It is estimated that 5 million Americans are infected with HCV. Because symptoms of HCV infection may not appear for many years, more than 70 percent are unaware they are infected.

C is for CURE – HCV is a curable infection. There are many highly effective pills now available that can cure hepatitis C in most people, most of the time – safely.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends an age-based screening strategy consisting of a one-time screening blood test for HCV for those at highest risk, including people who ever injected drugs (even once many years ago), and everyone born between 1945 and 1965 (“Baby Boomers”). Approximately 75% of HCV infections in the U.S. exist among Baby Boomers. One in 30 Baby Boomers in the U.S. has HCV. This CDC recommendation was endorsed by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force in June 2013. The broader testing recommendations likely will detect a substantial number of people who are unaware they are infected.

Remember that sharing straws/bills when using cocaine (even once many years ago), and having unprotected anal sex if you are an HIV-infected man who has sex with men, are also risk factors for having HCV. Refer to our selected links for more information on hepatitis C transmission (spread).

Deaths from HCV-related liver disease are on the rise. Early diagnosis allows people who are infected to receive treatment sooner rather than later, and prevent progression to more serious disease, such as cirrhosis (extensive scarring in the liver) and liver cancer.

This video provides a graphic depiction of how to decrease spread of hepatitis C via injection drug use. The video was made by ARUD: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pm5W3T9ODhQ
Here is additional information about ARUD, a model for integrated care: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4zd_hoZPF4

Links Recommended HCV Websites and Reading

There is a lot of misunderstanding about HCV. There is a good deal of misinformation circulating about HCV. If you are looking for more information about HCV, please click on one of the following websites that Dr. Taylor has vetted and supports:

 Relevant Reading

About RI Defeats Hep C

More people are now dying of hepatitis C virus infection (HCV) in the U.S. than are dying of all other 60 infectious diseases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) combined, including HIV. HCV can cause serious liver disease, including cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and liver cancer. HCV is the leading cause of liver transplantation in the U.S. Rhode Island Defeats Hepatitis C (RID Hep C) is a project dedicated to the elimination of HCV in Rhode Island (RI).

Initially supported by an Innovation Fellowship from the RI Foundation to Lynn E. Taylor, MD, RID Hep C is a comprehensive program to Seek, Treat, Cure and Eliminate HCV in RI; reduce illness, suffering and death due to HCV in RI; save money for RI and Rhode Islanders by enhancing proactive HCV care; and bring resources into RI to help combat RI’s HCV epidemic. RID Hep C is designed with several components: Awareness, Testing to Cure, Building Infrastructure for a Sustainable Model, and Evaluation. While there are many steps along the way in HCV infection—prevention, screening, diagnosis, evaluation, treatment, cure, preventing reinfection—what will have the highest impact in the shortest amount of time is to cure as many as possible among those already identified with HCV. Thus we focus on key target populations: Baby Boomers (born 1945-1965) and people with history of injection drug use.

Eliminating HCV in RI requires a coordinated, comprehensive, sustained and multipronged approach. We need to move from single-center, one-approach pilot programs, to developing networks of interventions. RID Hep C key priorities include:

  • Facilitating strategic HCV partnerships in RI
  • Advocating to reduce the stigma and health care disparities associated with HCV
  • Developing efficient, affordable and equitable community-based responses
  • Keeping RI up to date with rapidly evolving best practices for implementing HCV testing, evaluation and curative treatment
  • Improving the capacity of RI’s health systems to address HCV
  • Utilizing innovations in health technology to enhance HCV screening, diagnosis, linkage to care and cure in RI. To this end we aim to have all RI electronic medical record systems include a prompt for one-time HCV screening of baby boomers
  • Developing on-site HCV care for high prevalence populations: at methadone maintenance programs, corrections, HIV care centers and needle exchange programs
  • Fostering HCV research focused on enhancing care in RI
  • Using RI’s world-class arts community to engage people in the HCV field
  • Cultivating the next generation of HCV advocates by bringing HCV to the forefront of education and public health institutions

FREE Hepatitis C Testing at AIDS Care Ocean State (ACOS)

We offer a free and confidential screening test for hepatitis C virus infection (HCV), which look for the presence of HCV antibodies. Antibodies are proteins (a type of chemical) the body makes when exposed to HCV.

A positive or reactive HCV antibody result means that a person has been exposed to HCV. The next best test is a confirmatory HCV RNA by PCR, or HCV viral load – test for the virus itself. If there is HCV virus in the blood (80% of the time), there is a chronic HCV infection. In a fraction of cases (approximately 20% of the time), there is no virus in the blood, meaning that the HCV infection resolved on its own within the first few months after exposure.

The HCV antibody test we use at ACOS is a rapid test, using the Ora-Quick rapid HCV test kit. This test is performed with a finger stick, in which a tiny needle punctures the tip of a person’s finger. Results are ready in 20 minutes.

All staff members performing tests are Qualified Professional Test Counselors certified by the RI Department of Health.

Again to clarify – About 20% of people with positive screening antibody tests clear away the HCV virus on their own within the first few months of infection, without medications. Most people, the other 80%, develop a chronic infection in which HCV viruses are made every day in the liver. People with chronic HCV may go on to develop related health problems. The confirmatory, follow-up blood test is a viral load test called HCV RNA. The HCV RNA viral load test tells if there is HCV in the blood. If the result is reactive, or positive, a person has chronic HCV and will benefit from medical care.

Rapid HCV Testing Hours

  • Monday
    10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday
    10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. & 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday
    10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
  • Thursday
    10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. & 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
  • Friday
    10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
*Appointments are required for rapid HCV testing outside of these designated hours

Street Outreach Team

In addition we have a street outreach team that goes into various neighborhoods throughout Rhode Island to offer a wide range of services to the community including HCV testing. Our street outreach team travels in a Big Yellow Van and is able to provide testing and counseling on the spot for anyone interested. You may also contact Raynald Joseph, ACOS Prevention Supervisor: through the contact form below or call AIDS Care Ocean State at (401) 781-0665, to schedule our team to come to your organization or location for testing a group of people.

Who should get tested for HCV?

We have expanded upon the CDC’s list by considering an important article published by HCV expert Brian R. Edlin, MD. His article is entitled, “Hepatitis C Screening: Getting It Right,” Hepatology. 2013 Apr;57(4):1644-50. Thank you, Dr. Edlin!

Transmission of HCV occurs via direct blood-to-blood contact -- meaning that blood containing HCV has to get into our body’s bloodstream in order for us to catch HCV. Here is RID Hep C’s list of people we think should get tested for HCV:

  • Persons born from 1945 through 1965.
  • Persons who have ever injected illegal drugs, including those who injected only once many years ago.
  • Persons with a history of intranasal (through the nose, or snorting) drug use, including those who snorted only once many years ago. An example is snorting cocaine.
  • Persons with a history of heavy alcohol consumption.
  • All persons with HIV infection.
  • Persons in correctional institutions and those with a history of incarceration.
  • Persons who received clotting factor concentrates made before 1987.
  • Persons who received a blood transfusion or solid organ transplants before 1992.
  • People who have ever received long-term hemodialysis treatment.
  • Persons with known exposures to HCV, such as:
    • Health care workers after needlesticks involving HCV-infected blood.
    • Recipients of blood or organs from a donor who later tested HCV-positive.
  • Persons with signs or symptoms of liver disease (e.g., abnormal liver enzyme blood tests).
  • Children born to HCV-infected mothers (to avoid detecting maternal antibody -- the adult woman’s positive blood test-- these children should not be tested before age 18 months).
  • Persons with diabetes.
  • Homeless persons and persons with a history of homelessness.
  • Persons with ≥ 10 lifetime sexual partners, and especially those with ≥ 20 lifetime sexual partners.
  • Persons who received unsafe medical injections (steroids, for example) or unsafe tattoos or piercings.
  • Persons born in high-prevalence countries (countries where a large proportion of the population has chronic hepatitis C, such as Egypt).

Ask Your Doctor

During your next primary care appointment, ask your doctor about hepatitis C virus (HCV) and how to be screened for HCV. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends you write down the following questions and take them to your next appointment:

  • Do I need to get tested for HCV?
  • How will you test me for HCV?
  • How long will it take to get my test results?
  • How will I find out my test results?
  • If I have HCV, what will happen next?
  • Can you give me some information about HCV to take home with me?

If you do not have a primary care physician, search for one in your area. In RI: www.health.ri.gov/find/primarycare/

Our Progress

NOhep Visionaries Guide for Medical Professionals: 5 principles regarding taking action to eliminate viral hepatitis.

In June 2018, NoHep launched the guide at the Global Hepatitis Summit (GHS). The guide is intended to serve as a tool in the fight for the elimination of viral hepatitis. The guide can be found at: http://www.nohep.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/NOhep-Guide-for-Medical-Professionals-FINAL.pdf

NVHR Urges Congress to Pass the Eliminating Opioid-Relates Infectious Diseases Act

In March 2018, NVHR called for immediate passage of a bill that would increase funding to fight infectious diseases like hepatitis B and hepatitis C. The legislation (H.R. 5353), introduced on March 20, 2018, would expand surveillance and education about infections associated with injection drug use and would appropriate $40 million for the CDC to implement programs that address the high rates of infectious disease.

Progress report on access to hepatitis C treatment

In March 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report that tracks the progress of accessing HCV treatment since 2016. The report was developed by the WHO Department of HIV and Global Hepatitis Programme and the WHO Department of Essential Medicines and Health Products. Key findings of the include, but are not limited to, the need for more country leadership and more countries committing to the elimination of hepatitis C to fast-track progress and the need to join forces to unblock the price barriers in upper-middle- and high-income countries.

Project HERO transitions to the University of Rhode Island

On February 1, 2018, the Project HERO team and Lynn E. Taylor MD moved to the University of Rhode Island. Dr. Taylor is now serving as the Director of HIV and Viral Hepatitis Services at CODAC Behavioral Healthcare and as a Research Professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice at the University of Rhode Island.

6th International Symposium on Hepatitis Care in Substance Users (INHSU)

In September 2017, team members from all 8 Project HERO sites across the country met in Jersey City, NJ to discuss the research study and future endeavors of the project.

Team members from all 8 Project HERO sites

6th International Symposium on Hepatitis Care in Substance Users (INHSU)

In September 2017, Melissa Hordes and Danielle MacGregor presented the poster, “Health Insurance Barriers to Direct Acting Antivirals in a U.S. Integrated Hepatitis C/Methadone Maintenance Program.”

6th International Symposium on Hepatitis Care in Substance Users (INHSU)

In September 2017, Dr. Ayorinde Soipe presented the poster, “Prevalence of hepatitis C screening, testing, and care experiences among young adults who use prescription opioids non-medically in Rhode Island.”

Project HERO (Hepatitis C Real Options): A Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)-funded Research Study

Project HERO is a PCORI-funded five-year study designed to determine optimal approaches to providing HCV treatment to people who inject drugs. The study includes eight sites: New York City (Montefiore Medical Center), Baltimore (John Hopkins University), Providence (Brown University), Boston (Harvard Medical School), West Virginia (University of West Virginia), Seattle (University of Washington), San Francisco (UCSF), and Albuquerque (University of New Mexico). Project HERO is also informed by a national stakeholder group led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Providence HERO site also works with a group of local stakeholders.

Providence HERO colleagues
Providence HERO colleagues: From left to right (Top): Melissa Hordes, Elenita Goris, Keith Thompson, Lesley D’Urso, Sophie Sprecht-Walsh, Raynald Joseph. (Bottom): Lynn E. Taylor, Danielle MacGregor, Osvaldo Lugo.

American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence (AATOD) Conference

In October 2016, Dr. Taylor, in collaboration CODAC’s Linda Hurley, MA, CAGS, CEO, and Sophie Sprecht-Walsh, LPN, presented at the AATOD annual conference in Baltimore, MD. Their presentation, “Integrating Care for HCV Infection within a Methadone Maintenance Program Setting,” discussed a real-world, under-resourced approach to HCV care at an Opiate Substitution Therapy Program in Rhode Island.

In April 2014, Dr. Taylor started an on-site HCV Clinic at CODAC Providence, the largest of the CODAC sites. CODAC Providence cares for 1,000 patients daily with a population that includes many disenfranchised and under-supported people. Dr. Taylor and colleagues from Miriam Hospital along with CODAC’s nurse Sophie Sprecht-Walsh and phlebotomist Elenita Goris help many people engage in HCV care and treatment, with high cure rates.

Dr. Taylor also presented at the AATOD conference on HCV testing, barriers and facilitators to cure among drug-involved populations, and HCV treatment in community based settings.

At AATOD Conference
At AATOD Conference: From left to right: Sophie Sprecht-Walsh, Linda Hurley, Lynn Taylor, Diane Plante, Laura Levine, Christine Barrett

Collaboration with the non-profit organization CODAC Behavioral Healthcare

The RI Defeats Hep C Innovation Fellowship facilitated Dr. Taylor’s and ACOS’ collaboration with the non-profit organization CODAC Behavioral Healthcare, (CODAC), the only non-profit methadone maintenance treatment program in RI (www.codacinc.org). As a result, the Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, awarded a grant to CODAC which started July 1, 2013, to enhance HCV Screening, Referral, Treatment and Cure. The purpose of this program was to address the high prevalence of HCV among people who inject drugs or injected drugs in the past, in selected opioid treatment programs.

In April 2014, Dr. Taylor started an on-site HCV Clinic at CODAC Providence, the largest of the CODAC sites. CODAC Providence cares for 1,000 patients daily with a population that includes many disenfranchised and under-supported people. Dr. Taylor and colleagues from Miriam Hospital along with CODAC’s nurse Sophie Sprecht-Walsh and phlebotomist Elenita Goris help many people engage in HCV care and treatment, with high cure rates.

In September 2016, CODAC Behavioral Healthcare was designated as the state’s first “center of excellence” in the treatment of opioid use disorders. The designation includes all six of the agency’s sites in Rhode Island.

RID Hep C is on Target

From August 2013-January 2014, we had a 13% positivity rate on our HCV antibody screenings (versus estimated 1.3% of the U.S. population overall). Of these, 84% had detectable HCV RNA, indicating that RID Hep C’s testing was on target.

We Have RI Students Joining Our Efforts

Marcus Karim

As a medical student, at Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University (’21), Marcus Karim worked as an HCV Patient Navigator at The Miriam Hospital Infectious Disease Clinic.

Austin Tam

As a medical student at Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University (ScM'19 MD'19), Austin Tam volunteered for the 2016 Hep C WaterFire event and was honored as a Torchbearer during the opening ceremony. Austin also taught the 2016 Qualified Professional Testing Counselor annual certification course held at the Medical School, teaching best approaches to HCV testing. As part of the Primary Care Population Medicine master's program at Brown University, he served as a HCV Patient Navigator at The Miriam Hospital Infectious Diseases Clinic.

Andreas Lazaris

As a medical student at Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University, where he is pursuing both his MD and MSc in Primary Care Population Medicine (’20), Andreas Lazaris Andreas worked as an HCV Patient Navigator at The Miriam Hospital Infectious Disease Clinic.

Alexa Kanbergs

As a medical student at Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University (’19), Alexa Kanbergs worked with Dr. Taylor as an HCV Patient Navigator in The Miriam Hospital Infectious Diseases Clinic. Alexa served on the 2017 Hep C WaterFire Planning Committee.

Ayorinde Soipe

As a master’s student in the department of Epidemiology at the Brown School of Public Health (’17), Ayorinde Soipe, MBBS worked with Brandon Marshall, PhD and Dr. Taylor in modeling the most effective HCV treatment and prevention policies that will lead to a substantial decrease, and eventual elimination, of chronic HCV infection in Rhode Island.

Aaron Shapiro

As a medical student at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University (’18), Aaron Shapiro worked with RID Hep C to improve patient care at our HCV Clinic co-located within the methadone maintenance program, CODAC Behavioral Healthcare in Providence, RI.

Nari Sohn

As a medical student at the Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University (’19), Nari Sohn worked as a Hepatitis C Patient Navigator at The Miriam Hospital Infectious Disease Clinic. Nari participated in the 2015, 2016, and 2017 C is for Cure: a Waterfire Lighting for RI Defeats Hep C events.

Naomi Adjei

As a medical student at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University (’17), Naomi Adjei was the lead medical student liaison for C is for Cure: A Waterfire Lighting for RI Defeats Hep C. Naomi helped to plan the event’s educational activities and organize student volunteers. Naomi participated in the 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 Hep C WaterFires. She completed a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Harvard in 2017.

Soumitri Barua

As a Brown University undergraduate in the Program in Liberal Medical Education (’17,MD’21) concentrating in Public Health, Soumitri Barua worked with Dr. Taylor to determine state by state Medicaid reimbursement of sofosbuvir for the treatment of HCV. Results of this research were published June 2015 in Annals of Internal Medicine (see our RID Hep C reading list). Soumitri was the lead student liaison for the 2018 C is for Cure: A WaterFire Lighting for RI Defeats Hep C.

Aaron Kofman

Aaron Kofman is a resident physician in Internal Medicine at the University of California, San Diego. As a medical student at the Alpert Medical of Brown University (’14), Aaron Kofman worked with Dr. Taylor for 3 years, helping to care for patients with HCV and HIV. Aaron’s HCV-related projects with RID Hep C included publishing on access to HCV treatment trials for patients with history of substance use; helping to develop an electronic medical screening for HCV in RI Baby Boomers; and profiling the work of ENCORE, Rhode Island's only Needle Exchange Program at AIDS Care Ocean State.

Ali Zaman

Ali Zaman worked with RID Hep C to help expand capacity for HCV treatment for opiate-dependent patients.

Burke Gao

Burke Gao worked with Omar Galarraga, PhD and RID Hep C to model the costs of HCV treatment for RI's HCV population, and compared those investments with the resources saved from avoiding HCV-related complications.

Lizzy Kinnard

Lizzy Kinnard worked with Brandon Marshall, PhD, and Dr. Taylor to estimate the true prevalence of HCV in RI. This research was published in Rhode Island Medical Journal's special July 2014 edition on HCV.

Scaling Up Hepatitis C Screening in the United States

On September 17 and 18, 2013, our first Hepatitis C Navigator, Elier Reyes, served as a panelist at Project Inform’s HCV Think Tank Meeting, “Scaling-Up Risk-Based Hepatitis C Screening in the United States.” Hosting 30 national, state and local health officials, policy experts, doctors and community advocates, Project Inform will utilize the Think Tank to discuss the state of risk-based HCV screening, its challenges and successes, and ways to leverage the Affordable Care Act to improve access to testing, increase status awareness and decrease health disparities. Elier was on a panel with national HCV leaders, include those from the CDC and experts on clinical care and health systems. Eli presented a Community Based Organization Perspective.

Elier’s participation gave our Rhode Island communities a voice in this national discussion, and provided an opportunity for him to gather information that will be helpful to RIDHepC.

RI Defeats Hep C: Hep C 101 -- Current Standard of Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment for HCV Testers

We are working to expand the number of HCV screeners/testers in RI, to enhance our capacity to get at-risk persons screened. To this end, in Fall 2013, we held a, “RI Defeats Hep C: Hep C 101 -- Current Standard of Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment for HCV Testers,” educational session for community partners. RID Hep C also assists in Hepatitis C Testing and Counselling courses for Health Professionals.

RID Hep C is assisting our state in developing a Hepatitis C Strategic Plan for RI…
Stay tuned!

RID Hep C Special HCV Edition of the Rhode Island Medical Journal


Hepatitis C Testing Updates in RI

Despite longstanding clinical guidelines emphasizing the need for confirmatory HCV RNA testing following an initial reactive HCV antibody screening, recent data indicate that the healthcare system loses over 50% of reactive HCV antibody screens to follow-up in the U.S.

Lifespan is one of the largest healthcare systems in RI. On March 4, 2016, Lifespan laboratories implemented HCV RNA reflexive testing (testing for the HCV virus itself). Reflex testing ensures the completion and timely diagnosis of chronic HCV. It is recommended by the CDC to ensure that the HCV RNA test is performed following all reactive HCV antibody screening tests. This allows chronic HCV infection to be confirmed with a single test order. This change will improve HCV diagnosis and the cascade to cure in RI.


Therapy for Chronic Hepatitis C in 2014

First annual Dennis Mikolich Lecture:
"Therapy for Chronic Hepatitis C in 2014"

Invited speaker: Dr. Norbert Brau
Professor of Medicine, Divisions of Infectious Diseases and Liver Diseases, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY
Medical Director, Viral Hepatitis Program, Bronx VA Medical Center

April 4, Friday at Noon: 5th Floor Classroom 3 at the Providence VAMC

Rectangle logo with text, 'Hepatitis Awareness Month'

Treating and Defeating Hep C in Rhode Island

The month of May is designated as Hepatitis Awareness Month in the United States. In honor of Viral Hepatitis Month, RID Hep C sponsored an Educational Conference with the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University on May 16, 2014, entitled, “Treating and Defeating Hep C in Rhode Island.” The Conference was held at The Omni Providence Hotel | Providence, RI.

Target Audience

This educational conference was designed for physicians and other health care practitioners (nurse practitioners and other nursing professionals, physician assistants, pharmacists, psychologists, social workers) who are involved (or soon to be involved) in the diagnosis and management of patients with HCV infection. This conference was particularly relevant for practitioners in the fields of gastroenterology, hepatology, infectious diseases, HIV, corrections, internal medicine, family medicine, psychiatry and public health.

This activity has been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™

Conference Brochure

Conference Student Abstract Competition Winners

  • 1st Place: John T. Nguyen
John T. Nguyen Poster Design
John T. Nguyen

John T. Nguyen MPH’s, poster submission for the Treating and Defeating Hep C in RI Educational Conference was adapted from his thesis work with Drs. Brian Montague and Josiah Rich. John worked with the RI Department of Corrections (RIDOC) HCV Committee to utilize the electronic medical records system for improved HCV tracking and management. He also developed budgetary prediction models for comparative analysis of newly approved and upcoming HCV therapies as they pertained to RIDOC's efforts to provide HCV treatment and care in corrections.

Elizabeth Kinnard Poster Design

Conference Contributors

Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH
Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH
Rachel Baden, MD
Rachel Baden, MD
Jeffrey Bratberg, Pharm D, BCPS
Jeffrey Bratberg, Pharm D, BCPS
Brian R. Edlin, MD
Brian R. Edlin, MD
Nkiruka Emeagwali MD, PhD, MS
Nkiruka Emeagwali, MD, PhD, MS
Camilla Graham, MD MPH
Camilla Graham, MD, MPH
Arthur Y. Kim, MD
Arthur Y. Kim, MD
Alain H. Litwin, MD, MPH
Alain H. Litwin, MD, MPH
Brandon DL Marshall, PhD
Brandon DL Marshall, PhD
Kittichai Promrat, MD
Kittichai Promrat, MD
Thomas E. Sepe, MD
Thomas E. Sepe, MD
Anne Spaulding, MD, MPH
Anne Spaulding, MD, MPH
John B. Wong, MD
John B. Wong, MD
Paul G. Loberti, MPH and Paul Fitzgerald, MSW
Paul G. Loberti, MPH and Paul Fitzgerald, MSW
Michaela Maynard, MPH and Lynn E. Taylor, MD
Michaela Maynard, MPH and Lynn E. Taylor, MD
Drs. Sepe, Graham, Bratberg, Marshall, Wong, Edlin
Drs. Sepe, Graham, Bratberg, Marshall

Hepatitis C: C is for Cure

RI EOHHS Monthly Educational Talkbacks Presents:
Hepatitis C: C is for Cure featuring Lynn E. Taylor, M.D.

This program was held on Monday, May 19th, 2014 at 4:00 PM at the Rochambeau Library located at 708 Hope St. in Providence. The keynote speaker was Lynn E. Taylor, M.D. who is an HIV specialist focusing on HIV and Viral hepatitis coinfection (infection with both HIV and viral hepatitis).

Sponsored by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. Ryan White Program

RI Defeats Hep C Poster Design Competition Results

  • 1st Place: Hayward H Gatch IV
Hayward H Gatch IV Poster Design
  • 2nd Place: Brandon Bruzzi
Brandon Bruzzi Poster Design

C is for Cure: A WaterFire Lighting for RI Defeats Hep C, in honor of World Hepatitis Day

  • July 26, 2014

Event photographs by Brian DeMello
See the Photos

C is for Cure: A WaterFire Lighting for RI Defeats Hep C www.waterfire.org, was held on July 26, 2014, in honor of World Hepatitis Day. According to WaterFire’s Fall 2014 newsletter SPARKS, the event drew 65,000 attendees. The event was held to raise awareness; build Community, Connection, Cooperation, Camaraderie; help diminish stigma; inspire people to get tested and cured; and create a beautiful, family-oriented, artistic, musical, creative, enchanting, free summer night out on the town. Our event included entertainers, food, music, education, and testing.

RID Hep C was privileged to welcome Scott Holmberg, MD, MPH, to kick off our July 26, 2014 -C is for Cure: Waterfire Lighting

We were honored to have Dr. Holmberg return to lead the torch lighting for RID Hep C’s second WaterFire, August 1, 2015.

Dr. Scott Holmberg

Dr. Scott Holmberg is the Chief of the Epidemiology and Surveillance Branch, Division of Viral Hepatitis, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). His unit is responsible for national surveillance for and outbreak investigations of hepatitis A,B,C,D and E. Dr. Holmberg is a leader in the CDC’s focus on hepatitis C in the U.S. He works to improve opportunities to improve identification and care of people with hepatitis C and decrease hospitalizations and deaths resulting from hepatitis C (Holmberg SD, et al. Hepatitis C in the United States. N Engl J Med. 2013 May 16;368(20):1859-61). Dr. Holmberg was the first to present CDC findings that there are more Americans dying now from hepatitis C than from HIV/AIDS.


Current projects include the Chronic Hepatitis Cohort Study involving thousands of hepatitis B and C patients; analysis of ‘NHANES’ data from >5,000 randomly selected households/year in the U.S.; and analyses of several large national datasets related to hepatitis morbidity and mortality. Dr. Holmberg’s work with outbreaks started as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia (1971-73) in the World Health Organization (WHO) Smallpox Eradication Programme, after undergraduate studies at Harvard. Thereafter, he attended Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons (1975-9), trained in internal medicine at RI’s own Roger Williams Hospital, Providence (1979-82), and CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service (1982-85). For 19 years (1986 – 2005), Dr. Holmberg was Chief of the Clinical Epidemiology Section in CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, where he started and supervised many large studies of H IV/AIDS. Dr. Holmberg has authored or co-authored over 230 medical journal articles and is the recipient of several high US Public Health Service and CDC awards.

  • Rhode Island Medical Journal: One WaterFire Torch, One Life Remembered
  • WaterFire Providence | Dr. Lynn Taylor on C is for Cure

    July 26th, 2014, WaterFire Providence and RI Defeats Hep C partnered to create the "C is for Cure" hepatitis C awareness event. Dr. Lynn Taylor, director of RI Defeats Hep C, speaks about the Rhode Island Foundation Innovation Fellowship, developing the C is for Cure WaterFire event, and the outcome she and her organization experienced by partnering with WaterFire Providence.

Restricting Access to New Treatments for Hepatitis C Virus Among People Who Use Drugs: Is this ethical or justifiable based on the available data?

  • Wednesday, November 12th 2014

This lecture was given by Jason Grebely, PhD, a global leader in the field of HCV epidemiology. Areas of expertise include: impact of HCV treatment on population mortality; role of opiate replacement therapy in the treatment of HCV; acute HCV; feasibility and benefits of HCV elimination; treatment of HCV in people who inject drugs; HIV/HCV coinfection; and HCV treatment as prevention. Dr. Grebely is a driving force of the International Network on Hepatitis in Substance Users (INHSU), and spearheaded the INHSU’s CID 2013 supplement, “Moving the Agenda Forward: the Prevention and Management of HCV among People who Inject Drugs.” Dr. Grebely received his PhD from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada and currently works at the University of New South Wales in Sydney Australia.

May is Hepatitis Awareness Month.
What is happening in Rhode Island?

  • May 10-13, 2015

The Caring Ambassadors Program, an organization designed to help improve the lives of those affected by challenging health conditions through advocacy, information, and support, hosted an Advocates Unite! Conference, May 10-13 2015, in Washington, D.C. Caring Ambassadors sponsored two delegates from each state in the U.S. to attend the conference. The focus was to teach people how to become successful advocates for hepatitis C policy change. Rhode Island’s delegates were Paul Kelly and Brad Brockmann.

Paul Kelly is a local advocate for hepatitis C awareness. Stemming from his personal experiences with the disease, Paul is committed to letting the world know that hepatitis C is a silent epidemic that needs to be better addressed.

For information about Brad Brockmann please go to the, “Our Team” section.

Transforming Care in Hepatitis C

  • July 28, 2015

Camilla S. Graham, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Medical Staff, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA gave Department of Medicine Grand Rounds on hepatitis C. Her program provided information on: strategies to diagnose patients with hepatitis C infection; initial care; antiviral treatment choices C; barriers to hepatitis C treatment access and how to work with payers.

C is for Cure: A WaterFire Lighting for RI Defeats Hep C, In Honor of World Hepatitis Day

  • Saturday, August 1, 2015

Event photographs by Constance Brown
See the Photos

RID Hep C’s second “C is for Cure: A WaterFire Lighting for RI Defeats Hep C” was held on Saturday, August 1, 2015, in honor of World Hepatitis Day. The purpose of this event was to raise awareness; diminish stigma; inspire people to get tested and cured; and provide visitors with a beautiful, family-oriented, artistic, musical, free summer night in downtown Providence. The event attracted thousands of spectators and included entertainers, food, music, hepatitis C education, and free, confidential hepatitis C testing.

National Viral Hepatitis Testing Day Observance in Washington D.C.

  • May 19, 2016

National Viral Hepatitis Testing Day is an annual CDC-sponsored observance held on May 19. This year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy collaborated with the White House Office of National AIDS Policy and Office of National Drug Control Policy for a National Viral Hepatitis Testing Day event, Responding to Viral Hepatitis in the United States. This event was held to highlight the impact of viral hepatitis in the United States, progress on implementing the Viral Hepatitis Action Plan, and the intersection of hepatitis with both HIV infection and the ongoing opioid epidemic. The White House event included presentations from key federal, state, and community leaders. RID Hep C was one of 12 awardees recognized at the White House ceremony with a Viral Hepatitis Testing Recognition Award, for outstanding commitment to helping to increase awareness and diagnosis of HCV in the United States. From the White House press release:

“Viral hepatitis is an underappreciated issue affecting our nation’s health. An estimated 3.5 million Americans have hepatitis C. Fewer than half of those with chronic hepatitis C are aware of their status. When people remain unaware, they cannot take advantage of life-saving treatments and remain at risk for serious liver disease, including cirrhosis and liver cancer, as well as for transmitting the virus to others. Since 2012, deaths associated with hepatitis C outpaced deaths due to all 60 other infectious diseases that are required to be reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2014, the number of hepatitis C-related deaths reached an all-time high of 19,659.”
Reference Link: http://www.hhs.gov/ash/about-ash/news/2016/viral-hepatitis-testing-awardees-be-honored-white-house.html


Hep C Testing Day
Dr. Taylor Receiving Award
Dr. Taylor Receiving Award 2


The advocacy organization Caring Ambassadors also organized a Viral Hepatitis Hepatitis Testing Day event where they provided free testing and linkage to care at three sites in Washington D.C. http://nvhr.org/sites/default/​files/.users/u32/May19​%20Testing%20Day_1.pdf

National Hepatitis Testing Day events are encouraged and endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): https://npin.cdc.gov/pages/national-hepatitis-testing-day-may-19th-be-hepaware

World Hepatitis Day Infectious Disease Conference

  • July 28, 2016
  • The Miriam Hospital, Providence, RI

In honor of World Hepatitis Day, Lynn E. Taylor MD delivered a presentation during The Miriam Hospital Infectious Disease Conference entitled, “Management of Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Infection” to an audience of doctors, nurses, researchers and other healthcare workers.

C is for Cure: A WaterFire Lighting for RI Defeats Hep C, In Honor of World Hepatitis Day

  • Saturday, August 6, 2016
  • Rose Weaver and Jeffrey Osborne Perform on the Steeple Street Stage

    Rose Weaver and Jeffrey Osborne performed on the Steeple Street Music Stage in conjunction with C is for Cure: A WaterFire Lighting for RI Defeats Hep C.

Watch the Video
  • Jeffrey Osborne Introduces RI Defeats Hep C and Exult Choir

    Noted singer Jeffrey Osborne introduces the C is for Cure: A WaterFire Lighting in support of RI Defeats Hep C event with a special performance by the Mixed Magic Exult Choir.

Watch the Video

RID Hep C’s third annual “C is for Cure: A WaterFire Lighting for RI Defeats Hep C,” was held on Saturday, August 6, 2016, in honor of World Hepatitis Day. The purpose of this event was to raise awareness;; help diminish stigma; inspire people to get tested and cured; thank those working to eliminate HCV in Rhode Island and beyond; encourage expanded commitment to eliminating HCV in Rhode Island and beyond; and to provide a family-oriented, artistic, musical, free summer night in beautiful downtown Providence. Our WaterFire included entertainers, food, music, education, and free, confidential Hep C testing.

The 2016 HCV WaterFireTorchbearers honored Barbara McGovern, MD. Dr. McGovern was Dr. Taylor’s mentor. As Cami Graham MD MPH said as the Torchbearers gathered, Dr. McGovern trained a generation of HCV physicians and researchers all over the U.S. We were fortunate to have Dr. McGovern present as a Torchbearer on August 6.

This year, one key Torchbearer was missing – Dr. Steven Peligian, who died on November 16, 2015. The 2016 HCV WaterFire Torchbearers paid tribute to Dr. Peligian for his extraordinary vision, compassion, contributions and commitment to those living with and at risk for HCV. An empty Torch and yellow flowers represented the place Dr. Peligian stood at 2015’s HCV WaterFire. Dr. Peligian will always be remembered and will always be missed.

Dr. PeligianDr. Peligian

In addition to our lead Torchbearer Dr. Brian Edlin of the CDC (biography below), we welcomed Ms. Corinna Dan, RN, MPH, Viral Hepatitis Policy Advisor at the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. As the Viral Hepatitis Policy Advisor, Ms. Dan has worked to implement the National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan, a comprehensive cross-agency action plan to address viral hepatitis in the U.S. Prior to joining the Office of HIV/AIDS, Ms. Dan served as the Hepatitis B Policy Fellow at the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO). In this role, Ms. Dan worked with community leaders and policy makers to promote improved prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care of viral hepatitis in Asian American communities across the United States. Before joining AAPCHO, Ms. Dan held positions in the Hepatitis Foundation International (Chief Operating Officer) and the Chicago Department of Public Health (Hepatitis C Virus Program Coordinator).

WaterFire Providence is an independent, non-profit arts organization whose mission is to inspire its visitors by revitalizing the urban experience, fostering community engagement and creatively transforming the city by presenting WaterFire for all to enjoy. WaterFire is an award-winning artistic event featuring over eighty lit bonfire basins along three rivers in downtown Providence, RI. The event attracts approximately 65,000 people per event, including a diverse group of visitors (over 50% of attendees are from out of state) and a strong international crowd. Recently, WaterFire has expanded with fires in Ohio, Missouri, Texas, Pennsylvania and with unique lightings in Singapore and Rome.


Dr. Brian Edlin

Dr. Brian Edlin is the Chief Medical Officer for the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Edlin has been engaged in research, surveillance, and policy aspects of infectious diseases for 25 years. He has been at the forefront of efforts to expand access to hepatitis C prevention, screening, and treatment, remove barriers to treatment for people who use illicit drugs, and promote the elimination of hepatitis C.


Dr. Edlin began his career in 1989 as an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer in the CDC’s Division for HIV/AIDS Prevention. He remained there for 8 years, serving as Acting Assistant Director for Science in that Division during his last year. In 1997, he was recruited to direct the Urban Health Study at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), which was then the longest-running longitudinal study in the world of people who inject illicit drugs. In 2003, Dr. Edlin joined the Center for the Study of Hepatitis C in New York to establish an epidemiologic research program. For the past 20 years, he has conducted community-based research with people who inject illicit drugs in San Francisco and New York. Dr. Edlin has served on the faculty of UCSF, Weill Cornell Medical College, and SUNY Downstate College of Medicine. He is the author of more than 100 publications in medical and scientific journals, and received the Charles C. Shepard Science Award for his work at CDC. He holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and received his medical degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

The Department of Medicine’s Twenty-Third Annual Research Forum

Melissa Hordes and Danielle MacGregor presented their poster, “Health Insurance Barriers to Direct Acting Antivirals in a Rhode Island Integrated Hepatitis C Virus Infection/Methadone Maintenance Program,” at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

C is for Cure: A WaterFire Lighting for RI Defeats Hep C, In Honor of World Hepatitis Day

  • Saturday, August 5, 2017

The 4th C is For Cure: A WaterFire Lighting for RI Defeats Hep C was a tremendous success with the help of our Lead Torchbearers.

Brian R. Edlin


Dr. Edlin is the Chief Medical Officer in the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, CDC, Atlanta, GA.

Jag H. Khalsa

Jag H. Khalsa, MS, PhD

Dr. Khalsa is Chief, Medical Consequences Branch, Division of Therapeutics and Medical Consequences, National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIH.

Christina Paxson

Christina Paxson, MA, PhD

President Christina Paxson is the 19th President of Brown University and Professor of Economics and Public Policy. She assumed the role of president on July 1, 2012.

5th Annual C is for CURE: A WaterFire Lighting for RI Defeats Hep C

  • Saturday, July 28, 2018

This year’s theme was, “Promoting Health Equity in Hepatitis C.” Our Lead Torchbearers were:

Karen T. Tashima

Karen T. Tashima, MD

Karen T. Tashima, MD, Professor of Medicine, Director of Clinical Trials at The Immunology Center, Division of Infectious Disease, The Alpert Medical School of Brown University, The Immunology Center, The Miriam Hospital. Dr. Tashima has been a pioneer in Rhode Island in viral hepatitis research. Her areas of expertise include investigation of new medications for viral hepatitis especially in the setting of HIV co-infection, and in co-existing conditions. Dr. Tashima has been particularly successful in enrolling people representing minority groups, women and others affected by health disparities into studies.

Tina Broder

Tina Broder, MSW, MPH

Tina Broder, MSW, MPH, is the Interim Executive Director of the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable (NVHR, NVHR.org), a national coalition based in Washington, D.C. working to eliminate hepatitis B and C in the U.S. She created and leads NVHR’s Program Department, providing hepatitis C education, technical assistance and coalition building, focusing on patient and community input to inform research, medical guidelines, program development and policy. NVHR believes that all people deserve access to treatment for hepatitis C. One of NVHR’s top priorities is ensuring that public and private payers end all restrictions to treatment access. On October 23, 2017, NVHR and the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School released Hepatitis C: The State of Medicaid Access (stateofhepc.org), detailing hepatitis C treatment restrictions in all state Medicaid programs.


This year we acknowledge the whole-person, comprehensive care of people living with hepatitis C provided by two long-time hepatitis C champions at Thundermist Community Health Centers in West Warwick and Woonsocket, RI.

Michael Poshkus

Michael Poshkus, MD

Michael Poshkus, MD, Medical Director, Thundermist Community Health Center/West Warwick, Assistant Professor of Medicine, The Alpert Medical School of Brown University. An Infectious Disease specialist by training, Dr. Poshkus is a primary care physician at Thundermist. He incorporates hepatitis C, HIV and addiction care in his primary care practice. He has expertise in caring for formerly incarcerated individuals and in their transition to the community. Prior to his position at Thundermist, Dr. Poshkus served as a physician and Medical Director at RI’s Department of Corrections.

Sapna Chowdhry

Sapna Chowdhry, MD

Sapna Chowdhry, MD, is the Medical Director at Thundermist Health Center in Woonsocket, RI. She has been treating Hepatitis C and HIV for 14 years in a resource-poor setting, working to overcome challenges associated with disadvantaged populations including poverty, substance use disorders, mental health problems and uninsured or under-insured status. An Infectious Disease Specialist by training, Dr. Chowdhry is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Alpert Medical School and has been a part of the mentoring and doctoring programs for many years.


Meet The Team

Lynn E. Taylor
Lynn E. Taylor, MD Director
In May 2013, Lynn E. Taylor MD was awarded a Rhode Island Innovation Fellowship entitled, "Rhode Island Defeats Hep C.” She is a viral hepatitis, HIV/AIDS and primary care physician, clinical researcher, educator and public health advocate focused on prevention and care of hepatitis C virus infection (HCV) in vulnerable populations. She provides longitudinal primary and subspecialty care to patients with infectious consequences of addiction. For 18 years she has worked to enhance HIV and HCV prevention and treatment efforts for people who inject drugs, persons on opiate agonist therapy and individuals with psychiatric illness.
Sophie Sprecht-Walsh
Sophie Sprecht-Walsh, BA, LPN Hep C Nurse/Care Coordinator
Sophie Sprecht-Walsh, BA, LPN provides nursing care at RI’s non-profit methadone maintenance program, CODAC Behavioral Healthcare. Sophie has dedicated her career to working with persons living with HIV and HCV and caring for persons with substance use disorders. She currently provides HCV screening, education and counseling to CODAC patients and serves as the nurse and care coordinator for CODAC’s on-site HCV Clinic.
Raynald Joseph
Raynald Joseph ACOS Prevention Supervisor
Raynald Joseph has been the Prevention Supervisor for AIDS Care Ocean State (ACOS) for 4 years. As the Prevention Supervisor he oversees all things prevention, including the Street Outreach program, ENCORE (RI’s only Needle Exchange Program), and HIV and HCV testing. Raynald is passionate about the work he does. He loves the opportunity to connect with clients and link them to the care and services they need.
ACOS Prevention Center Website
Osvaldo Lugo
Osvaldo Lugo ACOS Prevention Specialist/Outreach Coordinator
Osvaldo Lugo has been the Prevention Specialist/Outreach Coordinator for AIDS Care Ocean State (ACOS) for 3 years. As the Prevention Specialist/Outreach Coordinator, Osvaldo is the key person for all off-site testing. Osvaldo organizes and runs all special testing events. He also organizes and runs the Street Outreach program, setting up a schedule which includes venue locations and times for the street outreach workers.
Brandon Marshall
Brandon Marshall, Ph.D. Mathematical Modeler
Dr. Marshall's research interests focus on substance use epidemiology and the social, environmental, and structural determinants of health of urban populations. In particular, his work seeks to inform public health and policy interventions that improve the health of drug users. With RI Defeats Hep C, he will be applying mathematical modeling tools to determine the most effective way to prevent, treat, and defeat hepatitis C in Rhode Island.
Learn More…
Keith Thompson
Keith Thompson Prevention Specialist
Keith Thompson is a Prevention Specialist at the RI Needle Exchange Program, located at AIDS Care Ocean State in Providence, RI. He also serves as a stakeholder on Project HERO and lends his insight from many years of patient-centered work and experiences to enhance HCV care.
Donald Dailey
Donald Dailey Stakeholder
Donald Dailey serves as a stakeholder for Project HERO’s Rhode Island site. Through collaboration with the research team, he provides insight into patient needs during HCV treatment, and with research recruitment and retention strategies. In 2016, he spoke at the national kick-off meeting for Project HERO in New York. Mr. Dailey has been a community leader in the fields of HIV and HCV for many years.
Keith McManus
Keith McManus Video Producer
Keith McManus is a Rhode Island based video producer that has spent 25 years working in broadcast television and multimedia production. His experience includes a multitude of skills that made him the perfect collaborated to distill and present the issues of Hep C to public. He has a passion for story telling, social justice, and bringing about positive change in the world. His 2 minute video was the essential link in winning the RI Foundation Fellowship Grant that launched our efforts.
Jeffrey Bratberg
Jeffrey Bratberg, PharmD Collaborating Pharmacist
Dr. Bratberg collaborates with physicians on infectious diseases patient consultations at Roger Williams Medical Center and teaches in and coordinates all of the infectious diseases courses at the University of Rhode Island (URI) College of Pharmacy. His research interests include expanding pharmacists’ roles in public health, particularly in HIV/HCV, prevention of opioid drug overdose and death, and expanding immunization practices. Jeffrey is an immunization, drug overdose prevention and emergency preparedness consultant to the Rhode Island Department of Health. Dr. Taylor's invited lecture on viral hepatitis to PharmD students at URI has been a highlight of the infectious diseases core curriculum for several years. This fruitful collaboration continues with Dr. Bratberg's work on RI Defeats Hep C to develop, review, and maintain HCV treatment protocols for HCV treating physicians in RI.
Brad Brockmann
Brad Brockmann Consultant & Liaison
Brad Brockmann, JD, MDiv, is Assistant Professor of the Practice at Brown University’s School of Public Health in Health Services, Policy and Practice where he creates and teaches courses at the intersection of criminal justice, incarceration and health.  Brad is a civil rights litigator who has been advocating on behalf of prisoners for more than 15 years, including 8 years as the first Executive Director of the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights in Providence.
Jackie Habchi, PharmD
Jackie Habchi, PharmD Pharmacist
Jackie Habchi, PharmD is a registered pharmacist at CODAC Providence. She has expertise in HCV medications and is working to help persons living with HCV gain access to medications. She assists in patient care with medication education and management to optimize SVR rates.
Aurielle Thomas
Aurielle Thomas HERO Project Director
Aurielle is the Project Director for University of Rhode Island’s Project HERO. Her interests span multidisciplinary research in hepatitis C care and infectious disease epidemiology. Aurielle has a Master of Science in Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. She is also a dedicated filmmaker and directed an educational documentary that captures the experience of navigating hepatitis C treatment from the patient and clinician perspectives in the era of DAA therapy.
Jules Levin
Jules Levin Inspiration
Jules Levin spearheaded New York City (NYC)’s HCV demonstration project and raised millions of dollars in private funding to do so. He is the founder and Executive Director of the National AIDS Treatment Advocacy Project (NATAP), an internet resource for global HIV and hepatitis conference coverage and scientific information. NATAP has been a leader in HCV education and information and in policy/advocacy since 1995. Over 17,000 individuals have attended NATAP events. As an advocate and activist, Mr. Levin has put HCV and HIV/HCV coinfection on the map; Mr. Levin has been a leader in the in NYC, NY state and federal HIV and viral hepatitis advocacy communities since the early 1990s, with numerous achievements that have changed the course of hepatitis-related policy and service delivery across the nation. Jules Levin lives with HIV and was coinfected with HCV for 30 years prior to being successfully treated and cured of HCV.
Boris Bally
Boris Bally Artistic Consultant & Advisor
Artistic Consultant and Advisor to the project, Bally maintains a thriving art/metals/design studio in Providence. He is the recipient of the 2006 Individual Achievement Award for Visual Arts presented by the Arts & Business Council of Rhode Island. His work has received two Rhode Island Council on the Arts Fellowships in Design and a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Crafts Fellowship. Bally’s work is featured in numerous international exhibitions and publications. Public collections include London’s V&A Museum, Museum of Art & Design New York, Carnegie Museum of Art Pittsburgh, Brooklyn Museum, Renwick Gallery and Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum. An example of his anti-gun violence work in Rhode Island may be seen across from the Courthouse on North Main Street.
Shepard Fairey
Shepard Fairey Juror
World-renowned RI artist Shepard Fairey will be the Juror for RI Defeats Hep C’s Poster Competition.  Fairey is a contemporary artist and designer. He is also the person behind OBEY GIANT, graphics he started when he was a RISD student.  These graphics have changed the way people see art and the urban landscape, and have evolved into a worldwide street art campaign and a body of fine art.  Fairey's art reached widespread acclaim in 2008, when his "HOPE" portrait of Barack Obama became the image of the presidential campaign. The original image now hangs in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.  The posters selected by Fairey will win an award and will be used in state-wide hepatitis C awareness efforts.

Press What people are saying…

Providence Buisness News

Health groups upgrade R.I. hepatitis C Medicaid access to ‘A-’

  • October 29, 2018

The National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable, along with the Center for Health and Law Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School, recently upgraded Rhode Island’s report card on the Hepatitis C: The State of Medicaid Access project from a “D-” to an “A-”.

Read More
The Rhode Show

WPRI Eyewitness News, The Rhode Show

  • July 27, 2018

Discussion with Lynn E. Taylor, MD and Bronwynn Dannenfelser about hepatitis C and 2018’s C is for Cure: A WaterFire Lighting for RI Defeats Hep C

Watch Now
Rhode Island Department of Health

RI Department of Health Public Health Press Release

  • July 27, 2018

WaterFire Lighting Organized to Support Efforts to Eliminate Hepatitis C.

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Rhode Island Public Radio

R.I. Expands Medicaid Coverage for Hepatitis C

  • July 12, 2018
  • By Kristin Gourlay

Rhode Island’s health insurance program for the poor is expanding treatment for people living with hepatitis C. The state Executive Office of Human Services announced Thursday it will cover treatment for all Medicaid patients with the potentially deadly bloodborne virus affecting the liver.

Read More
Providence Journal

R.I. Broadens Medicaid Coverage for Treatment of Hepatitis C

  • July 11, 2018
  • By G. Wayne Miller

After over four years of DAA rationing, Rhode Island’s Medicaid policy was changed and DAA restrictions were lifted. Previously, only Medicaid beneficiaries living with HCV with severe liver damage were able to access DAAs.

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SAMHSA’s ATTC Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network

  • May 2018

Hepatitis Awareness Month: Dr. Lynn E. Taylor Works to Eliminate Hepatitis C.

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Providence Business News

Providence Business News

  • December 15, 2017
  • By Emily Gowdey-Backus

Six years in, RIF innovation fellow’s impact unclear as they fight social and economic challenges.

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Providence Journal

Providence Journal

  • November 17, 2017
  • By Maryanne Tomazic and Abbe Muller

Rhode Island blocks life-saving treatment for people living with Hepatitis C. The state Department of Human Services applies unnecessary restrictions on Medicaid patients…

Read More

Your Guide to Hepatitis. Stopping the Syndemic.

  • Fall 2017

Fighting hep C and opioid addiction. Meet Lynn Taylor MD, a primary care physician fighting for cures on the front lines of America’s opioid and hepatitis C crises.

Read More
The Rhode Show

WPRI Eyewitness News, The Rhode Show

  • August 4, 2017

Discussion with Lynn E. Taylor MD about hepatitis C and C is for Cure: A WaterFire Lighting for RI Defeats Hep C.

Watch Now

WaterFire Lighting Organized To Support Efforts to Eliminate Hepatitis C

  • August 4, 2017

The Rhode Island Department of Health and RI Defeats Hep C invited all Rhode Islanders to attend the 'C is for Cure' WaterFire lighting on August 5th to rally support to eliminate hepatitis C in Rhode Island.

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WaterFire Ignites

AM 790's WaterFire Ignites Rhode Island Radio Show

  • August 3, 2017

Hepatitis C and RI Defeats Hep C WaterFire 2017.

Listen Now
WaterFire Ignites

AM 790's WaterFire Ignites Rhode Island Radio Show

  • July 27, 2017

Hepatitis C and RI Defeats Hep C WaterFire 2017.

Listen Now
WaterFire Providence

2017 C is for Cure: A WaterFire Lighting for RI Defeats Hep C, in honor of World Hepatitis Day

  • July 20, 2017

This video highlights a special WaterFire Lighting to raise awareness about hepatitis C.

Watch Now
Rhode Island Public Radio

RI Public Radio Forum: “Seizing the Moment to End Hepatitis C: A discussion with experts and advocates.”

  • November 17, 2016

RI Public Radio, in partnership with the RI Public Health Institute and the RI Department of Health, held a public forum to discuss the current landscape of hepatitis C in Rhode Island and what steps must be taken to overcome the barriers to accessing treatment.

Watch Now
Brown University

Major treatment expansion could essentially eliminate hepatitis C in R.I. by 2030

  • August 5, 2016
  • By David Orenstein

As the state takes a deep look at its hepatitis C epidemic, Brown University researchers have crunched the numbers to project what could be done to life Rhode Island’s burden of death and disease…

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Providence Business News

Brown researchers say treatment expansion could eliminate hepatitis C in R.I.

  • August 5, 2016
  • By Lori Stabile

WaterFire event dedicated to hepatitis C elimination slated for Saturday…

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WaterFire lights up for a cure this weekend

  • August 5, 2016
  • WPRI

An interview with Bronwyn Dannenfelser of WaterFire and Lynn E. Taylor MD, who pioneers the Rhode Island Defeats Hep C Initiative.

Watch Now
WaterFire Ignites Rhode Island Radio Show

An interview with performer Jeffrey Osborne and a discussion of RIDOH’s HCV-related initiatives with Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott

  • August 4, 2016
  • By Rose Weaver and Bronwyn Dannenfelser

WaterFire’s radio show featured singer Rose Weaver, performer at the HCV WaterFire, joined by Bronwyn Dannenfelser of WaterFire as co-host. Their first guest was performer Jeffrey Osborne, serving as special announcer during the HCV WaterFire. Later, Lynn E. Taylor MD joined Bronwyn to speak with Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) to discuss RIDOH’s HCV-related initiatives…

WaterFire Ignites Rhode Island Radio Show

World Hepatitis Day and HCV WaterFire

  • July 28, 2016
  • By Bronwyn Dannenfelser

Bronwyn Dannenfelser of WaterFire and Lynn E. Taylor MD discuss World Hepatitis Day and HCV WaterFire…

Providence Business News

Miriam’s Taylor among 12 health care practitioners recognized by White House

  • June 20, 2016
  • By Lori Stabile

Representatives from 12 health care organizations, including Lynn E. Taylor MD with The Miriam Hospital, were recognized at a White House ceremony on May 19 for their outstanding commitment to increasing the number of individuals who are aware of their hepatitis B and C status…

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WaterFire Ignites Rhode Island Radio Show

RI Defeats Hep C | Rose Weaver | Festival Ballet Providence

  • July 29, 2015
  • By Bronwyn Dannenfelser and guest co-host Betsy Jones

Our first guest on today’s show are Dr. Lynn Taylor the director of RI Defeats Hep C. In May 2013, Lynn E. Taylor was awarded a Rhode Island Innovation Fellowship entitled, “Rhode Island Defeats Hep C.” She is a viral hepatitis, HIV/AIDS and primary care physician focusing on prevention and treatment of HCV and hepatitis B viruses in vulnerable populations and on the primary care of people living with HIV…

Brown University

Undergrad’s Study Questions States’ Hep C Policies

  • June 30, 2015
  • By David Orenstein

Though she’s just 19, rising public health junior Soumitri Barua is the lead author of a study showing that most states in 2013 were rationing hepatitis C treatment against the recommendations of doctors and possibly against federal law. Dr. Lynn E. Taylor, her mentor, calls her efforts “stellar.”…

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American College of Physicians

Restrictions for Medicaid Reimbursement of Sofosbuvir for the Treatment of Hepatitis C Virus Infection in the United States

  • July 10, 2015

Author, Lynn E. Taylor, MD, calls Medicaid restrictions on sofosbuvir for the treatment of hepatitis C virus a violation of human rights. She and her colleagues discuss her recent paper in Annals.

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Annals of Internal Medicine

Restrictions for Medicaid Reimbursement of Sofosbuvir for the Treatment of Hepatitis C Virus Infection in the United States

  • June 30, 2015

The aim of this study was to systematically evaluate state Medicaid policies for the treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection with sofosbuvir in the United States. Medicaid reimbursement criteria for sofosbuvir were evaluated in all 50 states…

Read More

National study finds life-threatening barriers in access to breakthrough drugs

  • June 29, 2015

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Most states violate federal Medicaid law because they deny coverage for sofosbuvir, a new and highly effective treatment to cure hepatitis C, according to Lynn E. Taylor, M.D., director of The Miriam Hospital's HIV/Viral Hepatitis Coinfection Program…

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Medical Xpress

National study finds life-threatening barriers in access to breakthrough drugs

  • June 29, 2015

Hepatitis C virus affects over three million Americans. Worldwide, an estimated 120 to 150 million people have chronic hepatitis C. Left untreated, the infection can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer…

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Convergence RI

Singing the Hep C blues on RIPR

  • January 19, 2015
  • By Richard Asinof

PROVIDENCE – For an hour on live radio, a panel of experts politely shared their anger and outrage about the Hepatitis C epidemic in Rhode Island, their cogent words spoken mostly in the even-keel, modulated tones appropriate for an NPR public forum, before a sparse audience of about 70…

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Rhode Island Public Radio

At The Crossroads, Part 6: Veterans Harder Hit By Hep C

  • December 5, 2014
  • By Kristin Gourlay

In our ongoing series about hepatitis C, we look now at one of the hardest hit populations: veterans. Hep C is three times more prevalent among vets than in the general population. The Veterans Health Administration has the country’s largest hepatitis C screening and treatment program in the country…

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The Brown Daily Herald

R.I. Medicaid limits supply of Hepatitis C drug due to cost

  • December 4, 2014
  • By Emma Jerzyk

Rhode Island’s Medicaid program decided in September to ration the delivery of Sovaldi, a prescription drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last year to cure chronic Hepatitis C, due to the drug’s high cost and the relatively high prevalence of the virus among Medicaid enrollees in the state…

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Rhode Island Public Radio

At The Crossroads, Part 5: The Uncomfortable Math Of Hep C Treatment

  • November 26, 2014
  • By Kristin Gourlay

What’s the price of a human life? Many of us would say each life is priceless. But health economists sometimes have a number in mind.

Want to know what that number is?

In this part of our series “At the Crossroads: The Rise of Hepatitis C and The Fight To Stop It,” we'll tell you that - and more…

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Rhode Island Public Radio

At The Crossroads, Part 4: New Hep C Drugs Promise A Cure, For A Big Price

  • November 20, 2014
  • By Kristin Gourlay

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the discovery of the hepatitis C virus. Since then, people with hepatitis C have had limited – and not very effective – options for treatment.

Until now.

Revolutionary new treatments have hit the market in just the last few months…

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Let's Eliminate Hep C
Spotlight: Lynn E. Taylor

  • Fall 2014
  • By Elaine Vitone

The ever-widening epidemic of hepatitis C virus—the leading cause of liver transplants in the United States—has long been ignored and neglected, says Lynn E. Taylor (MD ’97), assistant professor of medicine at Brown. This is partly because of its stigma, and partly because the real weight of it is just beginning to hit…

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WaterFire Helping RI Defeat Hep C

Dr. Lynn E. Taylor Partners with WaterFire to Help Eradicate hepatitis C in Rhode Island

  • Fall 2014

On Sat., July 26th, 65,000 people gathered to watch the ring of fire and ensuing ceremony as 100 physicians and persons at the forefront of the fight to eradicate hepatitis C in Rhode Island encircled Waterplace Park basin with torches alite…

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Rhode Island Public Radio

At The Crossroads, Part 3: As Old Hepatitis C Treatment Fades Out, New Treatments Stoke Hope

  • November 12, 2014
  • By Kristin Gourlay

In just a few weeks, another pharmaceutical company will likely win FDA approval for a new drug to cure hepatitis C. That makes three breakthrough medications hitting the market in less than a year. It’s big news for the estimated twenty thousand Rhode Islanders…

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Rhode Island Public Radio

At The Crossroads, Part 2: Finding Hep C Infections Before It's Too Late

  • November 3, 2014
  • By Kristin Gourlay

Hepatitis C infects an estimated five million Americans, nearly 20-thousand Rhode Islanders among them. And most of them don’t know it. But many are about to find out. It takes about 20 years for most people to notice any symptoms from hepatitis C, and it was about that long ago most people got infected…

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Rhode Island Public Radio

At The Crossroads, Part 1: A Tale Of Two Epidemics

  • October 21, 2014
  • By Kristin Gourlay

One infectious disease – Ebola – is dominating the headlines now. But there’s another that affects far more people around the world, including here in the U.S.

Hepatitis C infects an estimated five million Americans, though most of them don’t know it, because it takes years for symptoms to emerge…

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Brown Medicine

Front and Center
Lynn Taylor moves hepatitis C from the sidelines to the mainstream.

  • Fall 2014
  • By Kris Cambra

At the bus stop, in the supermarket, on the playground, strangers whisper their closely held secrets to Lynn E. Taylor, MD RES’00 F’05: “My husband has hepatitis C. My sister died of it. I have it.”

These impromptu confessions do more than illustrate the stigma that still surrounds the virus. They prove that Taylor has become a powerful voice for awareness, screening, and treatment in Rhode Island…

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Providence Business News

Five Questions With: Dr. Lynn Taylor

  • September 1, 2014
  • By Harold Ambler

PBN: Are people reluctant to participate in hepatitis C screenings? If so, why are they reluctant?

TAYLOR: As we address hepatitis C in a more comprehensive way, we need to consider barriers at the patient level, physician level, and systems level. I do not think that people are reluctant to be screened for hepatitis C once they are made aware…

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Rhode Island Public Radio

On World Hepatitis Day, An Invitation

  • July 28, 2014
  • By Kristin Gourlay

Baby boomers are five times as likely to have chronic hepatitis C as any other age group. That's why the CDC launched a public health campaign to encourage boomers to get screened for the disease. And so, in honor of World Hepatitis Day, I invite---no, I encourage--boomers to get tested for hepatitis C…

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Dr. Lynn Taylor - hepatitis C

  • July 26, 2014
  • By Steve Klamkin

PODCAST: Learn about Dr. Lynn Taylor's effort to eliminate hepatitis C in Rhode Island.

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WaterFire to help raise awareness of hepatitis C

  • July 25, 2014
  • By The Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ This weekend's WaterFire will feature free hepatitis screenings to help raise awareness of a virus that affects an estimated 17,000 Rhode Islanders…

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The Rhode Island Foundation

Hep C taking spotlight at Waterfire

  • July 25, 2014
  • By Chris Barnett

A statewide campaign to eliminate hepatitis C in Rhode Island will offer people free, confidential screenings at Waterfire this Saturday beginning at 6 p.m. on the College Street Bridge…

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Rhode Island Public Radio

WaterFire Lighting Spotlights Hepatitis C

  • July 25, 2014
  • By Kristin Gourlay

This Saturday, WaterFire Providence is dedicated to raising awareness about hepatitis C. Organizers are offering free hepatitis C screenings at the event.

WaterFire volunteers will light more than eighty bonfires along the downtown river on Saturday night. A group called Rhode Island Defeats Hep C, led by Dr. Lynn Taylor, organized the lighting…

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Providence Journal

RI boomers urged to get screened for hepatitis C

  • July 24, 2014
  • By Thomas J. Morgan

PROVIDENCE — The dome of the State House will glow yellow starting Saturday in recognition of a “silent epidemic” of hepatitis C, only recently recognized, that is sweeping through America’s baby boomers…

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Medicare Will Cover Hepatitis C Screening for Baby Boomers and People at Risk

  • June 4, 2014

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced this week that Medicare will cover hepatitis C virus (HCV) screening for adults born between 1945 and 1965, as well as others considered at risk…

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The Miriam Hospital

Miriam Hospital physician advocates awareness and collaboration to combat peaking hepatitis C epidemic

  • July 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Lynn E. Taylor, M.D., director of The Miriam Hospital’s HIV/Viral Hepatitis Coinfection program, states in the July, 2014 Rhode Island Medical Journal special edition, “RI Defeats Hep C” that eliminating hepatitis c virus infection (hep c or HCV) is feasible…

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WaterFire Providence

WaterFire Announces Details Of Next Full Lighting On Saturday, July 26

  • July 17, 2014

WaterFire Providence, the award-winning sculpture by artist Barnaby Evans, announces the details of the next full lighting of the 2014 season, Saturday, July 26th. This lighting is sponsored by Gilead Sciences, Inc…

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World Health Organization

Partners sign call to action on hepatitis

  • June 5, 2014

Participants of the first global partners' meeting on hepatitis convened by WHO in March 2014 agree on a historic "Call to action to scale up global hepatitis response"…

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NIDA Insite

Dr. Jag Khalsa
May 2014’s Who’s Who at NIDA

  • May 2014

May 2014’s Who’s Who at NIDA features Dr. Jag Khalsa, Chief, Medical Consequences Branch, Division of Pharmacotherapies and Medical Consequences of Drug Abuse, NIDA, champion of research on addiction and its medical consequences of HCV and HIV…

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Rhode Island Medical Women's Association

Lynn E. Taylor, MD, FACP
2014 Woman Physician of the Year

  • April 16, 2014

Lynn E. Taylor, MD, FACP will be honored as the 2014 Rhode Island Medical Women’s Association (RIMWA) Physician of the Year at its annual meeting and dinner on Tuesday, May 13 at the Providence Marriott…

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Johnson & Wales University

Hayward Gatch IV ’14 placed first in RI Defeats HepC Poster Design Competition

  • Winter 2014

RI DEFEATS HEP C (ridefeatshepc.com) recently announced that student Hayward Gatch IV ’14 placed first in its HepC Poster Design Competition…

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AIDS Care Ocean State

"C"is for CURE

  • September 2013
  • By Kalene Brennan

Earlier this year, the Rhode Island Foundation announced their 2013 Innovation Fellows. Out of a pool of 180 original proposals, AIDSCare Ocean State's Medical Director, Dr. Lynn E. Taylor…

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Dr. Lynn Taylor Joins International Colleagues in Calling for Better Management of Hepatitis C Among Drug Users

  • August 2013

A Miriam Hospital researcher has joined forces with international colleagues to call for new strategies to better manage and improve assessment and treatment for hepatitis C…

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RI Innovation Fellowship winners chosen

  • April 30, 2013
  • WPRI

An interview with Rhode Island Fellowship winners Lynn Taylor and Adrienne Gagnon on The Rhode Show…

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R.I. Foundation awards two innovation fellowships

  • April 25, 2013
  • By Mariya Bashkatova

Lynn Taylor, assistant professor of medicine at Alpert Medical School and attending physician at Miriam Hospital, and Adrienne Gagnon, executive director and co-founder of Downcity Design, were each awarded a three-year Rhode Island Innovation Fellowship to fund their efforts…

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The Miriam Hospital

Lynn E. Taylor, MD, Receives Prestigious 2013 Rhode Island Foundation Innovation Fellowship

  • April 18, 2013

Lynn E. Taylor, MD, an HIV and viral hepatitis specialist, primary care physician and director of the HIV/Viral Hepatitis Coinfection Program at The Miriam Hospital, is one of two recipients of the 2013 Rhode Island Innovation Fellowship…

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2013 Rhode Island Innovation Fellows to focus on 'design thinking' and eradication of Hepatitis C

  • April 16, 2013

From a pool of 180 applicants, Adrienne Gagnon and Lynn Taylor have been selected as 2013 Rhode Island Innovation Fellows. Congratulations, Lynn and Adrienne!

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Many Thanks…

RID Hep C extends a special thank you to Waterfire's Bronwyn Dannenfelser.

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