Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Health and Human Performance (Community Health Option)

Department or School/College

Department of Health and Human Performance

Committee Chair

Annie Sondag

Commitee Members

Laura Dybdal, Nancy Seldin


Descriptive Case Study, HCV, Hepatitis C


University of Montana


The purpose of this study was to gather information about how Hepatitis C (HCV) affects Montanans. Montana specific information was collected about HCV transmission; factors influencing transmission; physical, social and psychological effects of having HCV and undergoing treatment; barriers to prevention and treatment; current available resources to those infected with HCV and ways to improve prevention and treatment. Secondary data consisted of a comprehensive literature review to describe the above factors and epidemiological information. Primary data was collected through key informant interviews and summary reports completed by people living with HCV. The findings suggest that HCV is primarily transmitted through the use of contaminated needles to inject drugs in Montana; Montana Law prohibits needle exchange programs. Although the literature and key informants confirmed that poverty is an environmental factor that contributes to the spread of HCV, HCV positive participants did not concur; therefore, the relationship between poverty and the spread of HCV remains undefined. Other environmental factors that were found to significantly contribute to the spread of HCV in Montana are the lack of access to clean needles, lack of public education and awareness and the prison and jail systems. The physical, social and psychological effects of not only having HCV, but being treated for HCV, were found to be tremendous. Treatment costs, lack of knowledge, difficulty of treatment, lack of access to treatment, the slow progression of the infection, having to be clean and sober before starting treatment and the stigma and lack of knowledge among physicians were all found to be large barriers to seeking treatment. Barriers to prevention included the lack of education and funding, stigma, and having few prevention options. Increasing media, awareness, and education were highlighted as the best ways to improve prevention. In order to improve treatment, it is necessary to not only decrease the cost, but also make it more available throughout the state of Montana. The findings from this study will be used by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services to increase awareness of how HCV impacts Montana residents.



© Copyright 2013 Blair Rice Snyder