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Here’s what Hillcrest is doing to fight against hepatitis A

Chris Ward talks to SDGLN about fighting hepatitis A in Hillcrest.
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San Diego is currently in the throes of a hepatitis A outbreak and the city is doing its best to prevent spreading the disease by installing Porta-potties and handwashing stations downtown.

Homeless people are being blamed for much of the problem, unsanitary conditions and lack of personal hygiene help spread hepatitis A.

According to the San Diego Health and Human Services Agency, "The majority of people who have contracted hepatitis A are homeless and/or illicit drug users, although some cases have been neither.  The outbreak is being spread person-to-person and through contact with a fecally contaminated environment."

Local residents and business owners have grown concerned about the rise in homelessness and cleanliness in the community and we wanted to know what officials were doing to help the neighborhood combat the contagious disease in Hillcrest. 

San Diego Gay and Lesbian spoke with Councilmember Chris Ward this week about the problem. He says it's two-fold. 

“Our ongoing homelessness crisis, which is now also being ravaged by a Hepatitis A outbreak, underscores that we're facing not only a humanitarian crisis, but a public health and safety crisis as well,” he said in a statement. 

He continues to say that in addition to providing funding from his office budget to support power washing in Hillcrest, they also requested, “handwashing stations and additional sanitation improvements for the neighborhood, we are moving forward with mobile showers and public restrooms, and will soon be bringing temporary shelter beds on-line with capacity to move hundreds of homeless San Diegans quickly off the streets.”

However, Ward says this is just a start.

“The increasing impacts of homelessness on the community are unacceptable, and I will continue to advocate for stronger enforcement of existing laws, more resources for permanent housing, and immediate, targeted relief in Hillcrest and all our neighborhoods bearing the brunt of the health and safety concerns in this crisis.”

Benjamin Nicholls, the Executive Director of the Hillcrest Business Association (HBA) says he is working closely with Ward’s office as well. 

“We are planning steam cleaning of areas that are problem areas (bus stops and homeless camps).  Chris' office gave HBA a grant of $5k to support steam cleaning in the neighborhood,” said Nicholls. “We are working with them also to place a number of hand washing stations in the neighborhood at locations frequented by the homeless. I don't think that toilets are in the cards for Hillcrest.  However, Balboa Park restrooms have been opened 24 hours.” 

So far the outbreak has been contracted by 421 San Diegans, 16 of those have died.

If someone is interested in a vaccine, they should call 211 or go to 211sandiego.org.