Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinators Convene in DC

By Ronald Valdiserri, M.D., M.P.H., Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Infectious Diseases, and Director, Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Cross-posted from AIDS.gov

Drs. Ron Valdiserri, Ellie McCance-Katz, and John Ward dicussing federal viral hepatitis initiatives with Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinators from across the country.

Drs. Ron Valdiserri, Ellie McCance-Katz, and John Ward dicussing federal viral hepatitis initiatives with Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinators from across the country.

Last week I had the opportunity to discuss the federal response to viral hepatitis with some of our key allies in the states: the CDC-funded Adult Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinators who had assembled in Washington, DC for the third National Hepatitis Technical Assistance meeting organized and hosted by the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD). Continue reading

Ending Viral Hepatitis: Policy Recommendations to End the Silent Epidemic

By Oscar Mairena, Manager, Viral Hepatitis/Policy & Legislative Affairs, NASTAD

NASTAD Viral Hepatitis Policy AgendaHealth departments are at the forefront of our nation’s efforts to prevent new infections and create systems of care for people living with chronic viral hepatitis. Health departments, however, are at a critical transition point as implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues and more effective treatments for hepatitis C virus (HCV) come to market – a transition that requires federal investment in national and state-specific public health infrastructure in order to meet the changing needs of people living with and at-risk of viral hepatitis.

Today, on the first day of the biannual National Viral Hepatitis Technical Assistance Meeting, NASTAD is releasing a policy agenda to combat viral hepatitis in the U.S. The policy agenda, Breaking the Silence on an Epidemic: Policy Recommendations to End Viral Hepatitis, provides recommendations for policymakers to better equip state and local health departments to provide the basic, core public health services to combat viral hepatitis; increase surveillance, testing and education efforts nationwide; and effectively reach the goals set by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other Viral Hepatitis Interagency Working Group members, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Continue reading

Hepatitis C Infection among Young Injection Drug Users

By Dan Church, Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinator at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Massachusetts Department of Public Health

Hepatitis CIn the last year, focus has been on the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation for a one-time hepatitis C virus (HCV) antibody test for all individuals born between 1945 and 1965. While this is important given recent trends in HCV-related mortality in this age cohort, there has been less attention on the need to continue risk-based screening due to the alarming trends of increased HCV transmission among young people who use drugs. This increase has been noted in a number of jurisdictions, including in Massachusetts, where the annual number of reported HCV infections among those 15 to 29 years of age has now exceeded those in the older age cohort. While the number of identified, confirmed acute HCV cases remains low, almost 2,000 cases of HCV infection have been reported each year in this younger age group since 2007 in Massachusetts alone. Most of these cases were likely exposed in the recent past, and surveillance data indicate that the injection of prescription opiates and heroin are driving this epidemic. Continue reading

How Health Departments Are Responding to Hepatitis B in Asian and Pacific Islander Communities

By Thaddeus Pham, Adult Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinator, Hawaii Department of Health

Hepatitis Testing Day 2013In addition to observing Hepatitis Awareness Month and Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May, this week we also recognize the second annual Hepatitis Testing Day. As I look at all these important events for the month, I am reminded about why I do the work that I do. I invest my time and energy and passion in combating viral hepatitis not only because I believe in public health, not only because I am an Asian American, but also because it affects people I know and love.  Continue reading

Responding to Viral Hepatitis through Health Reform

By Oscar Mairena, Manager of Viral Hepatitis and Policy and Legislative Affairs, NASTAD

Oscar Mairena, Manager, Viral Hepatitis/Policy and Legislative Affairs, NASTAD

Oscar Mairena, Manager, Viral Hepatitis/Policy and Legislative Affairs, NASTAD

This weekend marks the third anniversary of the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA improves access to care and preventive services through expansion of public and private insurance, reforms that eliminate discriminatory insurance practices and make insurance coverage more affordable, and significant investments in prevention, care coordination, and health workforce and infrastructure. In the case of viral hepatitis, the ACA provides an opportunity to not only improve access to essential care and treatment for people living with viral hepatitis, but to diagnose viral hepatitis earlier and prevent new infections. In light of the ACA’s anniversary, NASTAD released a primer today on viral hepatitis and the ACA, The Affordable Care Act and the Silent Epidemic: Increasing the Viral Hepatitis Response through Health Reform. The primer provides an overview of how health reform impacts viral hepatitis prevention, screening, linkage and retention to care, and treatment.

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