Month: January 2015

Baby Boomers! Know More Hepatitis!

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have just released the next phase of the national Know More Hepatitis campaign.  Of the estimated 3.2 million Americans who have Hepatitis C, 3 in 4 are people born from 1945 to 1965.  Since as many as 50% of people with Hepatitis C don’t know they are infected, the campaign encourages everyone born from 1945-1965 to get tested for the virus.

The campaign is being implemeneted using a variety of multimedia channels: print, radio, and TV PSAs, as well as airport dioramas, billboards, and transit advertisements.  CDC also developed materials to support educational efforts at the local level, including posters, fact sheets, infographics, and more.

You can view the new Know More Hepatitis PSA on YouTube and an infographic from the campaign below.

Infographic1

Local television report on Hepatitis C in Mesa County, Colorado

Mesa County is a region in Colorado that is adversely affected by hepatitis C.  Western Colorado AIDS Project reports that, of the many state-funded HCV testing sites, theirs exhibits an extremely high positivity rate for the virus.  While the advent of new and better treatments for hepatitis C has demonstrated cure rates in the 90th percentile, many individuals without health insurance or on Medicaid still don’t qualify based on criteria that looks at history of illicit drug use and disease progression as primary factors.

For the full story and a video report on Mesa County and Western Colorado AIDS Project’s work in the communities there, click here.

Patient Advocate Foundation Launches New Care Line for Hepatitis C Patients

Our friends over at the Patient Advocate Foundation have recently launched a new toll-free care line for people living with hepatitis C.  Case managers on the hotline focus on helping individuals access financial assistance to offset the cost of treatment.

The current reality of hepatitis C is that, while many individuals may be fully aware of their status, a good portion either can’t afford or don’t know how to go about qualifying for treatment.  With the newest hepatitis C medications on the market providing cure rates for certain genotypes in the 95th percentile and above, the need for proactive care and treatment at affordable costs is more important now than ever before.

Individuals living with a chronic infection of hepatitis C can receive case management services via the Patient Advocate Foundation’s Care Line free-of-charge.  The number to call is 1-800-532-5274,  You can also visit their website here.

If you have questions after reading this article, please call our helpline at 1-800-522-HEPC (4372).

Introducing…Friday’s Fact v. Fiction!

Ever wonder what the real deal is on that herbal supplement reputed to reduce the effects of Hepatitis C?  Or what the true story of why the baby boomer generation is more at risk for infections like viral hepatitis?  Or why people who use illicit drugs are less likely to access health care?

Wonder no longer! Introducing StepUpToHep’s weekly myth-buster, Friday’s Fact v. Fiction!

For our inaugural Friday post, we focus on the facts about Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B vaccinations.

“I’m good.  I’m pretty sure I got all of those shots when I was a kid.”

StepUp says: That might be true, but unless you can verify the following via your medical records, you might still need follow-up doses to be completely vaccinated against Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B:

* 2 doses of Hepatitis A vaccine

* 3 doses of Hepatitis B vaccine

(or)

* 3 doses of combined Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B vaccine (called TWINRIX)

“I don’t want to get the vaccine because I’m afraid it will infect me with a virus.”

StepUp says: The vaccines for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B will not infect you with either of those viruses.  Contrary to popular thought, these vaccines do not contain live, active virus; rather, they contain killed or inactivated virus designed to generate an immune response.  The bottom line? People who have been fully vaccinated aren’t at risk.

“I waited too long to get my next dose.  I don’t want to have to start all over with the first shot again.”

StepUp says: Most of the time, you don’t need to start over if you missed your return appointment for your next dose, and when you finally do get follow-up doses, your vaccine series will still be considered complete. Getting second or third doses too early is more detrimental to the vaccine’s effectiveness.  If it is recommended for you to start a vaccine series over from the beginning, it is not harmful for you to receive the same dose twice. For more information on vaccine schedules, visit CDC’s Hepatitis Vaccinations Hub.

“There’s a vaccine for Hepatitis C.”

StepUp says: Unfortunately, there isn’t.  But for people living with a Hepatitis C infection, it is important to get Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B vaccinations.  Co-infection with different types of hepatitis can cause increased damage to the liver and can complicate treatment options.

For more information on Hepatitis A, B, and C, check out the ABCs of Hepatitis.

If you’re a parent and have questions about vaccinations for your child, check out Parenting.com’s article, “10 Vaccine Myths – Busted.”

Join us next Friday for more Fact v. Fiction!

If you have questions after reading this article, please call our helpline at 1-800-522-HEPC (4372).

Public Radio Report – At The Crossroads, Part 7: Behind Bars, Hep C Takes A Toll

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Rhode Island Public Radio recently hosted a series of informative radio segments on hepatitis C.  We continue sharing this series with Part Seven: Behind Bars, Hep C Takes a Toll on Inmates, and Budgets.  The series covers a range of topics relevant to both patients and providers, including infection statistics, populations at highest risk, the newest pharmaceuticals designed to combat hepatitis C, and barriers for patients attempting to access treatment. Click here to listen to Part Seven of At the Crossroads.

Synopsis:

Rhode Island’s prisons are grappling with a dilemma. Hundreds of inmates have hepatitis C. New drugs can cure it. But they’re so expensive the department of corrections can’t afford them for every inmate who’s sick.

Outside the medium security prison in Cranston.
Outside the medium security prison in Cranston.
Credit Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

In this next part of our series “At the Crossroads,” a look at how prison officials decide who gets treated first.

If you are a person living with hepatitis C and have questions after reading this article or listening to the public radio broadcast, please call our helpline at 1-800-522-HEPC (4372).

Public Radio Report – At The Crossroads, Part 6: Veterans Harder Hit By Hep C

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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) chairs the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs. At a hearing Wednesday, Dec. 3, Sanders wanted to know why new hepatitis C drugs cost so much and how the VA was going to pay for them.

Rhode Island Public Radio recently hosted a series of informative radio segments on hepatitis C.  We continue sharing this series with Part Six: Veterans Harder Hit By Hep C.  The series covers a range of topics relevant to both patients and providers, including infection statistics, populations at highest risk, the newest pharmaceuticals designed to combat hepatitis C, and barriers for patients attempting to access treatment. Click here to listen to Part Six of At the Crossroads.

Synopsis:

In our ongoing series about hepatitis C, we look now at one of the hardest hit populations: veterans. Hep C is three times more prevalent among vets than in the general population. The Veterans Health Administration has the country’s largest hepatitis C screening and treatment program in the country. But that program is struggling to pay for new treatments – and the rising number of veterans who need them.

If you are a person living with hepatitis C and have questions after reading this article or listening to the public radio broadcast, please call our helpline at 1-800-522-HEPC (4372).