November is a time to be thankful: Hidden Casualties webcast, Veterans viral hepatitis resources, Diabetes & HBV

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national viral hepatitis action plan - office of h i v a i d s and infectious disease policy - united states department of health and human services

Viral Hepatitis Updates from the HHS Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy

Dear colleague,

November is a time to be thankful for many reasons and here at OHAIDP, we are thankful for all our partners and our shared accomplishments.

The interest and follow up from our Hidden Casualties: Consequences of the Opioid Epidemic on the Spread of Infectious Diseases event has been phenomenal. The opioid crisis in the United States has reached epidemic levels. Our office, along with many of our partners, are continuing to address this critical health threat. If you haven’t seen the powerful webcast, you can read the event coverage in USA Today or view the event video with transcripts.

After celebrating Veterans Day this past Saturday, November 11, it’s important to continue honoring our military veterans who served in the United States Armed Forces. Did you know that veterans have higher rates of hepatitis C (HCV) infection than the general public? The estimated chronic HCV infection rate for veterans who are in care is 4% which is about three times greater than that of the general U.S. population.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently shared major progress with new strategies for ensuring that veterans are screened, linked to care and treated for HCV. Since January 2014, the VA has treated more than 92,000 veterans with HCV infection, with cure rates exceeding 90%.

With the introduction of direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy, there are now even greater opportunities for widespread treatment and cure for patients with chronic HCV infection. The VA is a strong example of how an integrated delivery system dedicated to addressing the viral hepatitis epidemic can achieve high screening and treatment rates among their patients and help halt the epidemic. Watch some of the VA’s success stories in our latest blog.

November is also National Diabetes Month which brings attention to diabetes and its impact on millions of Americans. People living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are about twice as likely to be infected with hepatitis B as the general population. The self-care practices used by most people managing diabetes can make them more susceptible to infection. Learn about why people living with diabetes should get vaccinated.

We look forward to keeping you updated on viral hepatitis news. And please remember to follow us on Twitter at @HHS_ViralHep.

Richard Wolitski, PhD and Corinna Dan, RN, MPH
Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

What's New in the Blog

  • National Academies to Examine Impact of Opioid Epidemic on Viral Hepatitis, HIV and Other Infectious Diseases. November 3, 2017.  OHAIDP, along with the OWH, are funding a one-and-a-half-day workshop in early 2018 to address the consequences of the opioid epidemic on the spread of infectious disease. Learn more about the workshop here.
  • San Francisco Hep B Free Recognizes HHS’s Corinna Dan. November 3, 2017. Corinna Dan received an award from San Francisco Hep B Free for her extraordinary efforts in ensuring hepatitis B continues to be a priority across the nation. Read about Corinna’s award here.

Hepatitis in the News

  • Sao Paulo Declaration on Viral Hepatitis – The World Hepatitis Summit closed on a hopeful note with the launch of the declaration which committed to taking a broad and coordinated approach to support implementation of core interventions outlined in the World Health Organization’s Global Hepatitis Strategy. November 3, 2017.
  • Vermont rule changes may affect 8,000 Hepatitis C cases – Thousands of Vermonters with Hepatitis C may now be able to access treatment through Medicaid after a review board amended coverage rules last week, a change that could cost as much as $12 million a year. November 2, 2017.
  • NC Medicaid Program Removes Hepatitis C Treatment Restrictions – Starting today, the North Carolina Medicaid program will pay for medicines to treat hepatitis C for patients no matter how sick they are. In the past, the state wouldn’t pay for the expensive drugs unless the patient had stage two liver damage. November 1, 2017.