Ruth Dotson receives AAPA Foundation grant
Ruth Dotson, an adjunct faculty member for the PA Program on
the Boone campus and a PA at High Country Community Health (HCCC), has received
a $5,000 grant from the American Academy of Physician Assistants Foundation to
identify and promote treatment of underserved patients with chronic hepatitis C
(HCV). This disease is the leading cause of liver transplantation and liver
cancer in the United States and the second leading cause of cirrhosis.
In her grant application, Dotson explained that more than 150,000
North Carolinians are estimated to have HCV, with about 1,500 of them in the
High Country of rural northwest North Carolina. In the past, treatment of
HCV has involved at least 24 to 48 weeks of therapy with significant side effects
and clearance rates of approximately 50% to 60%. New therapies are
substantially better: treatment for 8 to 24 weeks, minimal side effects, and
cure rates approaching 98%. Many High Country patients with HCV are low-income
and uninsured, however, which limits their access to treatment.
is a Federally Qualified Health Center with clinics in Watauga and Avery
Counties. Established in 2012, HCCH offers comprehensive and culturally
sensitive services to medically underserved populations in the surrounding
rural communities. There is great need for identification and treatment of
those with HCV in this community, and the grant will help all persons with HCV
in the High Country have a chance for a cure.