By Mark Powell
Joining Forces to Offer Hope
Like many states, Oregon is a patchwork quilt of big cities, small towns, and wide rural expanses. And like many other states, its rural regions haven’t been spared from the opioid crisis.
“This is a complex issue with complex roots that requires complex solutions,” says OR – HOPE (Oregon HIV/Hepatitis Opioid Prevention and Engagement) principal investigator Todd Korthuis.
Oregon is one of eight states to receive funding through a national rural opioids initiative. The group has identified the state’s highest need rural counties, whose overdose and HIV rates equal and exceed rates in Portland, the biggest metropolitan area.
Oregon is a large state with a large rural population. “Many of the counties look a lot like Appalachia,” Korthuis says.
“Screening, treatment, and harm reduction services for opioid use disorder and HCV/HIV are scarcer than in urban areas. With the largest state-level increase in opioid-associated inpatient stays in the nation, and a substantial and diverse rural population, Oregon offers an optimal setting for implementing and testing new community response models for detecting and linking care for HCV and substance use disorder.”
OR-HOPE is a research study conducted through a partnership between Oregon Health & Science University, the Oregon Health Authority, Comagine, and HIV Alliance. The study’s aims include developing community programs to increase HCV/HIV testing and linkage to treatment; developing and evaluating rural community response plans that include peer care coordinators that link people to harm reduction and treatment services; and a peer-facilitated