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HHS: Viral Hepatitis Action Plan Updates & Request for Support

Dear Colleagues,
 
We write for two reasons, to update you on our progress in developing and releasing the National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan for 2017 – 2020 and to ask for you to help us raise awareness of the HHS.gov/hepatitis website.
 
As you may recall, last April our federal partners met and agreed to develop an updated National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan (NVHAP). Since that time, we have worked with the 23 federal partners that compose the Viral Hepatitis Implementation Group. We have also worked diligently to capture key issues identified by our nonfederal partners. Although the process has been time intensive, the result will be an evidence-based, responsive road map for the nation to combat hepatitis B and hepatitis C for 2017 – 2020. The new NVHAP will identify measurable, aspirational 2020 goals and annual targets that will need to be met or exceeded if we are to achieve our goals.
 
Finalizing the Action Plan and preparing it for release has taken longer than anticipated. It is now in clearance and we hope to release the document in early 2017. We’ll follow up with you when a release date is established.
 
Last May, on National Hepatitis Testing Day, HHS launched our new viral hepatitis website, http://www.hhs.gov/hepatitis/. We write to ask for your help to raise awareness about these viral hepatitis pages by linking to them on your webpages. These dedicated viral hepatitis pages include resources such as:
 
· The Viral Hepatitis Action Plan and information about the federal agencies involved in its implementation and progress in achieving its goals
 
· Links to federal policies and guidelines that help advance our work to achieve national viral hepatitis goals
 
· The latest blog posts from HHS and community leaders on key viral hepatitis topics.
 
· Facts, data, tools, and training that individuals and community partners can use to help win the battle against viral hepatitis
 
· Online federal tools for assessing hepatitis risk and locating viral hepatitis testing and vaccine providers
 
The new HHS web pages provide easy access to viral hepatitis resources from across the federal government. The Viral Hepatitis Action Plan recognizes that achieving its goals will require active involvement of and by a broad mix of stakeholders from various sectors, including federal, state and local; both public and private. We are committed to continuing to expand the site and have plans for doing so in 2017. That is why we are asking you to help to raise awareness about these viral hepatitis pages and resources by placing a link to them on your webpages.
 
We’re also now on Twitter at: @HHS_ViralHep. Please join the viral hepatitis conversation online by following us. We share updated website content, upcoming Twitter chats, and other current opportunities to join efforts to implement the Viral Hepatitis Action Plan and to learn more about what others are doing in communities across the country.
 
Please check out this new resource in our fight against viral hepatitis and help us spread the word about the Viral Hepatitis Action Plan and advances in our national efforts to your communities.
 
Sincerely,

Rich Wolitski
Director
Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health
Department of Health and Human Services
 
Corinna Dan
Viral Hepatitis Policy Advisor
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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).