As a participant in the Allegheny County Health Department’s Pittsburgh Summer Institute (ACHD PSI), Hemant Mahajan (EPI '17) assessed the burden of Hepatitis C in Allegheny County and the increased detection of acute hepatitis C cases and associated major risk factors. He worked with researchers in the Bureau of Assessment, Statistics, and Epidemiology to assess the burden of Hepatitis C in Allegheny County—including identifying acute Hepatitis C cases and assessing linkage to care for chronic Hepatitis C infection. The researchers believe enhanced Hepatitis C surveillance ultimately will lead to better implementation of public health intervention, especially in limited-resource settings such as a medically underserved community within the department’s service area.
They conducted investigations of a subset of positive laboratory results reported to the county, which mainly involved interviewing patients who were less than 35 years old, displayed a coinfection with Hepatitis B and elevated liver enzymes, received a diagnosis in an emergency department, and were suspected to have associated infections. Mahajan also was responsible for analyzing data from reported hepatitis C cases in 2015 and presenting to bureau staff.
“The Pittsburgh Summer Institute for Applied Public Health gave me an opportunity to apply my epidemiological and biostatistics skills in actual field settings,” he says. “I have always wanted a career where I can help a large number of people. I strongly believe that strategic, evidence-based information as well as appropriate dissemination of information can improve disease awareness services and, in turn, positively influence health outcomes.”