Month: September 2016

Using Mobile Technology to Increase Screening for Hepatitis B and C among Asian Americans


Americans of Asian ancestry are at increased risk of hepatitis B and, in some cases, hepatitis C. These diseases can cause liver problems and cancer. But many Asian Americans have not been screened for these illnesses. PCORI-funded researchers are testing whether an interactive app overcomes language and cultural barriers to encourage more people to get screened.


A Cure For Hepatitis C: Bringing Medication Within Reach For All


The Promise and the Challenge
Here’s the promise: There is a cure, a complete cure in a short 12 weeks, for hepatitis C virus (HCV), which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates afflicts between 2.7 and 3.9 million Americans, and which is a leading cause of liver cancer and other devastating health complications. This new class of HCV drugs, which are much easier on the human body and virtually free of side effects, attacks the virus directly and can reduce the viral load to zero when taken correctly.

As with so many things in healthcare, this promise comes with challenges. First, the price tag can be steep—nearly $100,000 for a full 12-week course. But weigh this against the down-the-line medical and lost-productivity costs, not to mention human toll, associated with hepatitis C (HCV) infection, which can cause chronic liver infection, cirrhosis, cancer and the need for a liver transplant. In 2014, there were nearly 20,000 deaths in the U.S. with HCV infection as an underlying or contributing cause.


READ MORE about this innovative program to make treatment adherence easier for patients w/hepatitis C


Prisons: The Problem and Solution of Hepatitis C?

hand in jailHepatitis C is curable; however, getting rid of the infection does not take away accompanying liver risks. In addition, many people who are infected don’t even know it – making eradication a distant, but possible, future. Peter Vickerman, BSc, DPhil, from Bristol University’s Division of Global Public Health, and colleagues from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia looked at a population in which transmission is common and learned some insightful lessons. The World Health Organization (WHO) set a target to eliminate hepatitis C by 2030, and one of the ways that can become a reality is by identifying commonly infected populations. Prisons are one place where the virus thrives. As many as one in six inmates have hepatitis C in parts of the United States and Europe. It’s suspected that non-sterile injecting equipment is to blame for the high transmission rates. “On the downside, it is clear that prisons act as incubators of hepatitis C, driving the epidemic both within the prison system and in the community at large,” Andrew Lloyd, MD, from the UNSW, said in a news release. “On the plus side, they also offer a unique environment to cure people of the disease and address the risk behavior that fuels transmission.” Presented at the 5th International Symposium on Hepatitis Care in Substance Users (INSHU 2016) in Norway, the team analyzed hepatitis C transmission in prisons located in Scotland, Australia, Ukraine, and Thailand. One of the findings indicated that presenting prevention programs within the prisons, as well as to those who are being released back into the community, could significantly cut infections.

ACLU sues Colorado Medicaid


DENVER –The ACLU of Colorado is filing a federal class action lawsuit against Colorado’s Medicaid program in an effort to increase access to a live-saving drug to treat hepatitis C.

The American Civil Liberties Union suit filed Monday states that thousands of low-income Coloradans suffering from hepatitis C are being denied treatments that have more than a 90 percent cure rate, but cost about $40,000 per person.
“We’re sitting on it because of money,” said David Higginbothum, a Canon City plumber who believes he contracted hepatitis C while working in a hospital in college. “My doctor just flat out told me they’re not going to treat me.”

Evidence Conflicting for Anti-HCV Drugs in Liver Cancer

Though a new generation of drugs has proved highly effective against the hepatitis C virus (HCV), a leading risk factor for liver cancer in the United States, there is conflicting evidence about whether the therapies promote cancer recurrence in infected patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) who already have responded to curative treatment.

Researchers who have been at the forefront of studying this unexpected controversy concerning direct-acting antiviral (DAA) treatments for HCV presented their findings at the 2016 International Liver Cancer Association (ILCA) conference in Vancouver, Canada.

María Reig, MD, of the Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer (BCLC) Group, reported that 27.6% of 58 patients who had achieved a complete response and lacked non-characterized nodules after curative HCC therapy and went on to take the anti-HCV drugs experienced a recurrence of their cancer after a median follow-up of 5.7 months. The incidence was higher if broader groups of patients who had been treated with HCC were considered, Reig indicated.

Notably, the recurrence rates were higher and surfaced earlier than has been shown in other cohorts of patients who have responded to various HCC treatments, Reig said.

By contrast, no evidence of an increased risk of recurrence was found by researchers who culled through findings from 3 French prospective multicenter trials of 660 patients with chronic HCV or cirrhosis who were treated for HCC. Of these patients, 516 received DAA therapy after their cancer treatment.2

Study Explores Marijuana Use and Fibrosis in Women with HIV and Hepatitis C

  |   Catherine Kolonko

littlelivers.jpgA study in women coinfected with hepatitis C and HIV found that use of marijuana was not associated with progression to advanced liver fibrosis.

University researchers studied long-term effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from marijuana on fibrosis progression in women enrolled in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study. Results were published recently in the Oxford Journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases.

The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a blood-borne disease that, left unchecked, can lead to fibrosis, cirrhosis, liver cancer, or the need for a liver transplant. The authors note that marijuana use has been associated with progression of liver fibrosis in retrospective analyses of patients with chronic hepatitis C and that other studies on the impact of THC use and liver fibrosis progression have reported conflicting results.

“Currently, marijuana has been legalized for medicinal and/or recreational use in 23 US states, as well as the District of Columbia, and its use in HIV/HCV-coinfected patients is common,” the authors stated in the article. “Given that it is becoming more widely available and more regularly consumed, it is critical to assess its clinical effects, including any negative impact of THC use on liver fibrosis progression.”

Eradication of Hepatitis C Dependent on Drug Users’ Access to Treatment

At the 5th annual International Symposium on Hepatitis Care in Substance Users, experts spoke out strongly on the need for hepatitis C treatment to be more accessible to drug users.
Hepatitis C virus model, 3D illustration. A virus consists of a protein coat (capsid) surrounding RNA and outer lipoprotein envelope with glycoprotein spikes
“To delay further is unethical and undermines public health,” said Jason Grebely, of the Kirby Institute of Australia’s University of New South Wales, in a press release from the meeting.

The condition impacts as many as 100 million people worldwide, astronomically increases patients’ risks for cirrhosis and liver cancer, and kills almost three-quarters of a million people annually. The vast majority of new cases, at least in high-income nations, are among intravenous drug users.

The meeting was hosted by the International Network for Hepatitis C in Substance Users (INHSU), and the group points to economic and pseudo-scientific barriers that keep drug-using hepatitis sufferers from receiving new, effective treatments, including an assumption that illicit drug use reduced the efficacy of certain medications. The group emphasized last year’s C-EDGE CO-STAR Clinical Trial, which found no negative impact on therapy, and that reinfection rates among users were as low as 4%.

As new treatments have proven their effectiveness, organizations and countries have created audacious goals for the total eradication of the condition. The World Health Organization aspires to see hepatitis B and C eliminated as a “global health threat” by 2030, with 80% overall diagnosis and 65% treatment. Only a minority of global HCV cases are currently believed to be diagnosed.

Women in High Places event in New York to address the link between hepatitis and liver cancer

Pic: Women in High Places

Pic: Lorren Sandt and Nancy Steinfurth

Lorren Sandt, Hep C Caring Ambassadors and Nancy Steinfurth, Liver Health Connection at Women in High Places: Leading the Global Challenge of Hepatitis and Liver Cancer Control, September 6-8 in New York City — in New York, New York.

Dynamic conversation among Women in High Places: Leading the Global Challenge of Hepatitis and Liver Cancer Control September 6-8 in New York City — Colorado’s Liver Health Connection Executive Director Nancy Steinfurth is in attendance with many other valued voices making these issues heard.

Hosted by Caring Ambassadors, a resource page has been developed here: