By Dan Church, Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinator at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Massachusetts Department of Public Health
In 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
By Thaddeus Pham, Adult Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinator, Hawaii Department of Health
In 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
By Oscar Mairena, Manager of Viral Hepatitis and 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.