Is $1 Enough for Viral Hepatitis Prevention?

By Emily McCloskey, Manager, Policy and Legislative Affairs

Is 1$ Enough for Viral Hepatitis Prevention?Today, NASTAD released an infographic analyzing viral hepatitis funding. State health departments receive less than $1 dollar in federal funding for every person living with viral hepatitis for the Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinator (VHPC) program. The VHPC program is the only national program dedicated to the viral hepatitis epidemics and provides the only public health infrastructure for the prevention of viral hepatitis and linking individuals to care and treatment. In order to meet the goals established by the Viral Hepatitis Action Plan, the VHPC program must continue to be funded in all existing jurisdictions and increased resources are necessary to coordinate prevention efforts at the state and local levels. Continue reading

Year in Review: Renewing our Commitment to Public Health

By Dawn Fukuda, Director, Office of HIV/AIDS, Massachusetts Department of Public Health and NASTAD Chair (Outgoing)

Dawn Fakuda

Director, Office of HIV/AIDS, Massachusetts Department of Public Health and NASTAD Chair

As I began my tenure as chair of the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) in May 2013, I was full of energy and optimism. January 1st of 2014 was close at hand, and represented a massive new opportunity to invigorate our response to the HIV and viral hepatitis epidemics through the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

I was confident based on our experience with state health care reform in my home state of Massachusetts that increased access to medical care through broader insurance coverage would translate into health promotion and disease prevention outcomes that would advance our progress along the HIV Care Continuum. I remain steadfast in my belief that integrating an HIV and viral hepatitis response into primary medical care and reimbursable health services is the way to sustain our efforts into the future; yet the mechanics of the ACA roll out over the past year also provide a striking reminder of the essential and non-transferrable role of public health.

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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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How Health Departments Are Accelerating Improvements in HIV Prevention and Care in the United States

By Dawn Fukuda, Director, Office of HIV/AIDS, Massachusetts Department of Public Health and NASTAD Chair

Raising the Bars: ReportAs HIV/AIDS directors in state and territorial health departments, we are no strangers to the concept of strategic planning. Community engagement, consumer advisory, and evidence-based decision making are hallmarks of our approaches—as is the capacity for our systems to evolve and adapt in response to emerging trends and population needs. Our planning and program development methods have been soundly implemented and tested over years, in some cases over decades.

The infrastructure to deliver HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis prevention and care services, while it may look and function differently across our individual jurisdictions, has been collaboratively designed to be maximally accessible, responsive, and effective in reaching local and national health promotion objectives. We have built a system that blends social welfare, medical care, and public health in an integrated services framework, and by all accounts we have been a success. Continue reading