Welcome to HCV Advocate’s hepatitis blog. The intent of this blog is to keep our website audience up-to-date on information about hepatitis and to answer some of our web site and training audience questions. People are encouraged to submit questions and post comments.

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Alan Franciscus
Editor-in-Chief
HCV Advocate
HBV Advocate

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Fighting a Silent Epidemic: Viral Hepatitis in the African American Community

Editor’s note: During the observance of Minority Health Month, we are pleased to share a guest post from Dr. Nadine Gracia highlighting activities to address one of the racial/ethnic health disparities in viral hepatitis.

Viral hepatitis is sometimes referred to as a silent epidemic, one that leads to more than 17,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. But this epidemic, which disproportionately affects African Americans—who are 1.5 times more likely to die from the disease than non-Hispanic whites—too often goes unnoticed by the public and undetected by health care providers and patients.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is working to raise awareness about viral hepatitis and reduce its impact on the African American community. Since 2011, the Action Plan for the Prevention, Care and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis has guided the efforts of HHS, other federal agencies and non-governmental partners. Building on the achievements of that plan and recent advances in this field, HHS and its federal partners renewed their commitment to improving the national response to viral hepatitis with the release of the updated Viral Hepatitis Action Plan on April 3, 2014. The updated plan includes actions designed to improve awareness of viral hepatitis among and access to prevention, screening, care, and treatment for priority populations, including African Americans.

- See more at: http://blog.aids.gov/2014/04/fighting-a-silent-epidemic-viral-hepatitis-in-the-african-american-community.html#sthash.FtiFZvkb.dpuf

Congress Presses the VA for Increased Attention to Hepatitis C

One of the more interesting aspects of the relationship between AASLD and the federal government is the broad range of interests that hepatologists have through many different departments and agencies.
  • Within the National Institutes of Health, there are about a dozen separate institutes and centers that play a role in liver-related research.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based in Atlanta, has the Division of Viral Hepatitis, with whom we work very closely.
  • The Food and Drug Administration deals with the approval of new drugs and such controversial issues as acetaminophen toxicity.
  • The Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs operate enormous health care systems and conduct relevant research, as well.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services set payment rates for liver-related services, physician reimbursements, and medication.
  • The Health Resources and Services Administration, through its Division on Transplantation, governs organ donation programs.
The list goes on and on. Each year as Congress moves its appropriations bills to fund all of these agencies, they issue a report (known as a Committee Report) explaining their intent in setting the funding levels they do. Thus far, the only such report issued for the FY2015 budget year is the House Military Construction/Veterans Affairs report, which addresses Congress’s interest in the Veterans Health Administration, among many other things.

Read more....

EASL 2014: Dual therapy of daclatasvir and asunaprevir produces SVR12 in phase 3 trial

LONDON — Hepatitis C virus genotype 1b-infected patients given a dual therapy of daclatasvir and asunaprevir for 12 or 24 weeks achieved a sustained virologic response, according to research from a phase 3 trial presented at the International Liver Congress.

Researchers analyzed 643 patients who received both 60 mg of daclatasvir (DVC) QD and 100 mg of asunaprevir (ASV) BID. Treatment naive patients (n=203) received the dual therapy or matching placebos (102) for 12 weeks, whereas null/partial responders (n=205) and ineligible/intolerant of peginterferon/ribavirin (n=235) received dual therapy for 24 weeks. The DVC and ASV treatment naive group continued treatment through 24 weeks, whereas the placebos entered a different study after 12 weeks. Seventy-one percent of patients were IL28B non-CC; 30% were cirrhotic. The primary endpoint was sustainable virologic response at 12 weeks (SVR12).

Read more....

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

From the duh files: should food workers be vaccinated against Hepatitis A?

JoNel Aleccia of NBC News writes the question of whether hepatitis A inoculations should be mandatory for food workers — or whether the cost to business isn’t worth the wider benefit — is gaining renewed attention from federal regulators, health officials and ordinary consumers amid a spate of new restaurant warnings.

As many as 17,000 people a year are sickened by hepatitis A, according to 2010 estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and about 95 people die. That’s only a fraction of the 48 million people in the U.S. who are sickened by food poisoning each year, but hepatitis A is the only foodborne bug for which an effective vaccine actually exists.
 
The hepatitis A virus causes acute liver infection that can trigger lingering illness and even liver failure or death, though that’s rare. It’s spread when a person ingests fecal material from an infected person and causes symptoms that include, fever, chills, nausea, dark-colored urine and jaundice, a yellowing of the skin or eyes.

Read more...

Hepatitis C victim in dental scare writes of fears

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A Tulsa-area man whose hepatitis C diagnosis led Oklahoma to close two dental clinics and suggest AIDS testing for 7,000 patients last year says his illness has left him depressed, embarrassed and worried about his future.

The patient — identified as "G. Rains" in court records — has sued Dr. W. Scott Harrington, claiming the dentist deliberately used rusty instruments and re-used contaminated drug vials that led to Rains' infection. According to health officials and court records, Rains is the first confirmed patient in the U.S. to contract hepatitis C from another patient in a dental office. Health officials shut down Harrington's practices last year, and the investigation into the clinics continues.

Rains declined an in-person interview with The Associated Press but agreed to answer questions submitted through his lawyer, Mark Lyons.

Read more....

Medical Spotlight: Hepatitis Awareness Month

Dr. David Nelson is a liver doctor and researcher at the University of Florida who specializes in Hepatitis C.

Dr. Nelson's research on Hepatitis C was recently honored as a Top 10 Achievement by the National Clinical Research Forum.

Dr. Nelson stopped by our studio today to discuss recent treatment advances and screening recommendations for Hepatitis C.

Watch the interview here...

Australia: Hepatitis C class action forced to trial after settlement fails

THE settlement of a lawsuit involving 50 women infected with hepatitis C at a Melbourne day surgery clinic has been derailed, as one woman holds out for her own trial.

The women are suing Croydon Hospital Pty Ltd after being infected by drug-addicted anaesthetist James Latham Peters.

Lawyers for the hospital had offered to settle both cases, but on the condition that the individual's case be rolled into the class action.

Andrew Ingram, representing the lone litigant, told the Victorian Supreme Court that his client did not want to be part of the group.

Justice David Beach said he did not believe he had the power to force the woman to join the class action, and adjourned both cases.

Read more...