Viral Hepatitis Monthly Newsletter

ISSUE NUMBER TEN • July 2014

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World Hepatitis Day, July 28, 2014

World Hepatitis Day is an annual event on July 28, 2014 that provides international focus for patient groups and people living with viral hepatitis. It is an opportunity to raise awareness and influence real change in disease prevention and access to testing and treatment.

World Hepatitis Day was launched by the World Hepatitis Alliance in 2008 in response to the concern that chronic viral hepatitis did not have the level of awareness, nor the political priority, seen with other communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. In May 2010 the World Health Assembly passed resolution WHA63.18 on viral hepatitis which provides official endorsement of World Hepatitis Day. Since 2010 World Hepatitis Day has been coordinated by the World Hepatitis Alliance in collaboration with the WHO. 

To read more and see how you can get involved click here.

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Spotlight On...

National African American Hep-C Action Day on July 25, 2014

On July 25, 2013, the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Inc. (NBLCA), in partnership with HARM Reduction Coalition and the Coalition on Positive Health Empowerment (C.O.P.E.), launched the First Annual National  African American Hepatitis C Action Day, a community mobilization initiative aimed at reducing the high incidence of HCV infection in black communities by drawing attention to this neglected health disparity and promoting education, testing, and treatment.  

In preparation for the Second Annual National African American Hepatitis C Action Day, co-sponsored by NBLCA, C.O.P.E. and Harm Reduction, support the day by agreeing to host activities in your City or leading up to July 25, 2014. 

One-day Summits – targeting healthcare practitioners, nurses, physicians, pharmacist, public health professionals, social workers and counselors  

*          Public Policy Town Hall meetings – to inform community stakeholders and policy makers of the impact of Hepatitis C within the African-American Community  

*          HCV Health Literacy - workshops and trainings to educate the community on the impact of Hepatitis C  

*          Outreach & Testing events- to as many African-Americans tested for Hepatitis C and if positive linked to care and treatment  

 July 25, 2014 – Second Annual African American Hepatitis-C Awareness Action Day’s participation will help to ensure the success and impact of this critically important campaign—namely, increased Hepatitis C awareness, increased Hepatitis C testing, increased access to treatment for individuals infected with the Hepatitis C virus, and, ultimately, a decrease in the number of people infected with HCV.  

For more information, including an event toolkit, click here.  

 The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Announces Expanded Hepatitis C Screening Coverage    

The CMS has finalized its coverage decision to reimburse for hepatitis C virus screenings for two target populations under Medicare Part A or enrolled in Part B.

The CMS said it will only reimburse for screening for beneficiaries who fall into two categories. The first are those individuals who are considered at high risk for the disease, including individuals who have a current or past history of illicit injection drug use or those who had received a blood transfusion prior to 1992.

The second is for those individuals who were born from 1945 through 1965. This group was singled out since about two-thirds of patients with hepatitis C were born between these years, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

The coverage determination brings Medicare into alignment with private insurers who have already been reimbursing for screenings for these individuals. To read more, click on the following link, http://bit.ly/1kTau0P 

New USPSTF Recommendation on Hepatitis B Screening for People at High-Risk

On Monday, May 26, 2014 the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) published its final recommendation statement on screening for hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in individuals at high risk. This recommendation includes adults and adolescents who are not pregnant and who have not been vaccinated, as well as other individuals at high risk for infection.                                                                                

After reviewing the evidence, the Task Force recommends screening people who have the following risk factors for HBV infection:

  • People born in countries and regions with a high prevalence of HBV infection, such as Africa, Southeast Asia, Pacific Islands, China, Middle East, Eastern Europe, and the northern countries in South America;
  • U.S.-born persons not vaccinated as infants whose parents were born in countries or regions with a high prevalence of HBV infection;
  • HIV-positive people, injection drug users, men who have sex with men, and those living with or having sex with someone with HBV infection; or
  • Patients with weakened immune systems or undergoing treatment for kidney failure (hemodialysis).

To read more, visit the USPSTF website by clicking on the following link, http://bit.ly/1keXGLL  

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Hepatitis Resources

Hepatitis C Coverage Guide

The AIDS Institute recently released a helpful guide outlining Hepatitis C testing coverage options by private and public payers. You can read this coverage guide here.

HCV Advocate website

Hcvadvocate.org is a website supported by the Hepatitis C Support Project and includes many free resources for anyone to utilize.  The website has links to fact sheets and news articles and educational materials.  Check out the website by clicking here. If you are running a hepatitis support group,  there is even material to help you... 

Hepatitis C Support Group Lessons for support group members and people who are interested in learning more about hepatitis C and advocating for their healthcare.

  • Lesson 11: Getting Your Medicine—To help simplify where, when, and how the people in your group get their treatments. This can be complicated, so this lesson is designed to make it easier for them.
  • Lesson 12: Before, During, and After Treatment—To help people in your group understand all parts of treatment. Members of your group who have tried treatment may want to share what their treatment was like. 

Immunization Action Coalition (IAC)

The IAC has many free handouts and facts sheets about hepatitis and many are available in multiple languages.  Check out their website at http://www.immunize.org/. 

A few handouts that are available…

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Viral Hepatitis Updates & News

Infant Hepatitis B Vaccine Protection Persists Through Adolescence

Adolescents who were vaccinated against Hepatitis B virus (HBV) in infancy should still be protected.

Researchers tested the antibody response to an HBV vaccine challenge in 420 U.S.-born 16- to 19-year-olds living in Texas who had been immunized with HBV vaccine at or shortly after birth.

Three-quarters of the adolescents had baseline anti-HBs levels below 10 IU/mL, the team found. Those who had received the first HBV vaccine dose at least four weeks after birth were less likely to have seroprotective levels than were those who received their first dose within seven days after birth. To read the full article click here

Substance Abuse Treatment Programs are Key in Hepatitis C Virus education

New research shows that people who inject drugs do want to be educated about Hepatitis C and that education is associated with willingness to be treated. 

A recent study was based on a survey of 320 patients enrolled in a New York City-based methadone treatment program. Nearly half reported they had tested positive for HCV infection. 

Seventy-eight percent of respondents expressed willingness to participate in HCV-related education and receive treatment for HCV. More than half of those surveyed correctly responded to at least five of seven questions assessing their knowledge about HCV.  To read the full article, click on the following link, http://bit.ly/1nPiWx7   

Treatment of Patients with Dual Hepatitis C Virus and Hepatitis B Virus Infection

In patients dually infected with hepatitis C and B, the disease manifestations are usually more severe than those with either virus infection. In the past several treatment issues have been resolved but, some still remain.   First, host and viral factors influencing the long-term outcomes and treatment options in patients with dual HCV/HBV infection await further studies. Second, about 60 percent of dually infected patients with baseline undetectable serum HBV DNA levels develop HBV reactivation after the start of treatment. How to prevent and treat HBV reactivation should be clarified. Third, about 30 percent of dually infected patients lose hepatitis B surface antigen at five years after the end of combination therapy; the mechanisms need further investigations. Fourth, the optimal treatment strategies for dually infected patients with active hepatitis B or established cirrhosis should be explored in future clinical trials. Finally, the role of new direct-acting antiviral-based therapy for the treatment of patients with dual HCV/HBV infection also remains to be evaluated.

To read the complete article, click here

Alcohol is Very Risky for Those Co-infected with HIV and Hepatitis C

Even moderate alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of advanced liver fibrosis for people living with HIV and Hepatitis C virus (HCV) co-infection. Researchers found that for all categories of drinking – moderate, severe/binge and alcohol-related disorders – prevalence of advanced liver fibrosis was also higher among people living with HIV or HCV mono-infection compared to people who had neither infection. 

To read the full article, click here.

Some Hepatitis B Patients Can Stop Antiviral Treatment Without Relapse

Stopping antiviral therapy after several years appears generally safe for people with HBeAg- negative chronic Hepatitis B without liver cirrhosis, and a substantial proportion do not experience viral relapse or worsening liver inflammation while off treatment, according to research recently presented at Digestive Disease Week (DDW) 2014. To read the full article, click here.

 

IN THIS ISSUE

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UPCOMING EVENTS

Shalom Health Care Center's Back-To-School Family Health Fair

Where: Shalom Health Care Center 3400 Lafayette Road, Indianapolis Indiana 46222

Date: Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014

Time: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. 

For more details call 317-291-7422 or visit their website at http://www.shalom-hcc.org/

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TRUE LIFE STORY OF HEPATITIS

Click here to watch a YouTube video of one nurses story of how she contracted hepatitis.

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