An Emerging Epidemic: The Public Health Response to Hepatitis C Infection among Young People who Inject Drugs

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

Panelists at the NASTAD and Harm Reduction Coalition Congressional Briefing.

Panelists at the NASTAD and Harm Reduction Coalition Congressional Briefing.

Last year, the Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinator (VHPC) in Massachusetts, Dan Church, wrote a post about the increasing rate of acute hepatitis C (HCV) infection among young persons who inject drugs in Massachusetts and the health department’s efforts to prevent new infections, identify existing cases, educate individuals vulnerable to acquisition, and enhance surveillance and data collection to better address the epidemic. Since then, more health departments have reported this trend, especially among young persons who begin using prescription opioids and transition to injecting heroin. Earlier this week, NASTAD partnered with the Harm Reduction Coalition to host a Congressional Briefing, An Emerging Epidemic: The Public Health Response to Hepatitis C Infection among Young People who Use Drugs, to bring this issue to light, educate Congressional staff and reinforce the role of public health in addressing emerging health concerns. Continue reading

How Health Departments Are Addressing the Viral Hepatitis Epidemic in the U.S.

By Maria Courogen, Director of the Office of Infectious Disease, Washington State Department of Health

Maria Courogen

Maria Courogen, Washington State AIDS Director, speaking at the launch of the updated Viral Hepatitis Action Plan.

In my role in Washington State, I oversee the state health department’s work in the areas of HIV, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), tuberculosis and viral hepatitis. In my role as a member of NASTAD’s Executive Committee and Chair-Elect, I work with state health department colleagues across the country, many of whom have a similar portfolio of work, to provide leadership in the country’s response to HIV and hepatitis. As such, On April 3, I participated in an event hosted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for the release of the next iteration of the Viral Hepatitis Action Plan.

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One Year of HIV Case-based Surveillance in Guyana: Celebrating Successes and Recognizing Challenges

By Anna Carroll, Senior Associate, Global Program, NASTAD

Sunil and Homechand are both HIV Volunteer Counseling and Testing (VCT) counselors in the Berbice region of Guyana, one of the more developed and populated regions in the country. Despite major funding challenges in the region, Sunil and Homechand continue to demonstrate their commitment to combatting the epidemic and improving the health of the Berbice population, testing between 70 and 100 people each month for HIV.       Continue reading

ACA Turns Four: Recognizing Successes and Looking Ahead

By Xavior Robinson, Senior Manager, Health Care Access, NASTAD

Signing of the ACAMarch 23 marked the fourth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). While it is undeniable that the ACA’s inaugural open enrollment period has had its share of challenges, it is important to recognize that the movement to ensure that all Americans have equitable access to health care transcends the technology failures of HealthCare.gov. Over the past four years, state HIV/AIDS programs have worked to adapt and innovate to meet needs of people living with HIV and co-occurring conditions in our evolving health care landscape. Through the use of innovative solutions (see Raising the Bars), support from colleagues and staff, and an enduring commitment to the broader public health imperative presented by HIV, state AIDS directors have leveraged the ACA to achieve remarkable results, including: Continue reading

Share Knowledge and Take Action: National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

By Michelle Allen, Associate, Policy and Legislative Affairs, NASTAD

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day LogoToday, NASTAD joins in the observation of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD) to recognize the impact of HIV on women and girls across the country. Since 2006, this day has been observed to raise awareness and encourage communities to take action in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The facts are clear, of the 50,000 adults and adolescents newly diagnosed with HIV in 2011, one in five was female. Among women, women of color account for nearly two-thirds of new AIDS diagnoses, and at some point in their lifetimes, 1 in 32 Black women and 1 in 106 Latinas will be diagnosed with HIV. Most of these women, roughly 86%, were infected with HIV by having condomless, heterosexual sex. Educating women, across all communities is an important piece of preventing further spread of the epidemic, and that makes this year’s theme, “Share Knowledge. Take Action,” that much more important. Continue reading