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

Action Alert: Urge Congress to Fully Fund Domestic HIV/AIDS and Viral Hepatitis Programs

By Emily McCloskey, Manager, Policy and Legislative Affairs, NASTAD

Action: Contact your Senators to ask them to fully fund domestic HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis programs

NHTD 2013 Call In DayThe Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to vote on the bill that funds domestic HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis programs the week of July 7. The National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) and the larger HIV community are leading a call in day on June 27 to ask the Senate to help prevent further cuts and to fully fund domestic HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis prevention, care, treatment, and research programs. Calls on this issue to individual offices can make a difference. Please send the action alert to your networks and communities. If possible, NASTAD also asks you to reach out to your Senators on June 27, National HIV Testing Day (NTHD), and let them know the importance of HIV and viral hepatitis programs. 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

The Future of Health Department HIV and Hepatitis Programs

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

Dawn Fakuda

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

For perhaps the first time in history, the end of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis is within our reach. Recent notable achievements provide promise for success, among them the release of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) and the Viral Hepatitis Action Plan (VHAP) and the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Collectively, these achievements have catalyzed the beginning of a radical transformation in our healthcare systems for communities impacted by HIV and hepatitis. In particular, the ACA represents an opportunity for the country to expand access to HIV/AIDS and hepatitis prevention, medical care, and health promotion services in profound and impactful ways. The systems-level changes advanced in the legislation also require state health departments to reassess their role in the context of an evolving health care system and the other sources of financing that may become available to support what have historically been public health functions—this is particularly the case for HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis prevention and care services. Continue reading