World Hepatitis Day
by Leilani Attilio
On July 28, 2012 NC Harm Reduction joined other hepatitis activists on the the white house lawn to commemorated World Hepatitis Day with a special focus on Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) and the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV). Hepatitis has reached epidemic proportions around the world, including the United States, but has largely flown under the radar in communities. Approximately 805,000 to 1.4 million people1 and 3.2 million people2 are infected with HBV and HCV in the United States, respectively. Unfortunately, people who are infected with HCV, which is the leading cause of liver transplants and liver cancer in the United States, may not have any signs or symptoms for decades, making the spread of the disease more pervasive. In addition, to give a sense to the seriousness of the disease (if the word “cancer” wasn’t enough), deaths due to HCV have surpassed those from HIV/AIDS3. In an effort to curtail further transmission and deaths, the White House hosted the fifth World Hepatitis Day on August 2nd to bring awareness to the threat of the disease across the country.
Featured panelists and speakers at the White House included Congressman Hank Johnson, who spoke about HCV as a person living with the disease, Dr. Howard Koh, the Assistant Secretary for Health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Dr. John Ward, Director of the Viral Hepatitis Program at the CDC. The gathering was a platform to roll out strategy plans, recommendations, and tools for surveillance. For example, the CDC unveiled an online risk assessment tool for hepatitis. The five-minute questionnaire asks various questions such as year of birth and nativity. At the end of the questionnaire, the assessment tool generates a printable summary and recommendations to discuss with your health care provider.
The North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition is working closely with the North Carolina legislature for the state to adopt recommendations supported by numerous professional medical organizations such as American Medical Association, American Public Health Association, and Institute of Medicine. These recommendations include syringe decriminalization, which would allow us to conduct syringe exchanges in North Carolina without criminal prosecution. Injection drug use is a risk factor for HCV due to practices such as sharing needles during injection. The coalition is looking forward to minimizing the risk of disease for all people and collaborating with other likeminded organizations. We hope you will join the fight. The first step is to raise awareness. Consider this step checked off.
1. Weinbaum CM, Williams I, Mast EE. Recommendations for identification and public health management of person with chronic hepatitis B virus infection: MMWR 57(RR-8):2;2008.
2. Armstrong GL, Wasley A, Simard EP, McQuillan GM, Kuhnert WL, Alter MJ. The prevalence of hepatitis C virus infection in the United States, 1999 through 2002. Ann Intern Med. May 16 2006;144(10):705-714.
3. Ly KN, Xing J, Klevens RM, Jiles RB, Ward JW, Holmberg SD. The increasing burden of mortality from viral hepatitis in the United States between 1999 and 2007. Ann Intern Med. Feb 21 2012;156(4):271-278.
Abbott Hepatitis C Combo Impressive in Small Study
> Reuters (04.02.12)::Bill Berkrot
> A combination of oral hepatitis C drugs being developed by
> Abbott Laboratories realized cure rates exceeding 90 percent in
> treatment-na?ve patients, according to a small, mid-stage study. The
> results, released Wednesday, will be presented later this month in
> Barcelona at a meeting of the European Association for the Study of the
> For 12 weeks, patients in the Phase II trial, known as
> ?Co-Pilot,? received Abbott?s protease inhibitor ABT-450, boosted by the
> antiviral drug ritonavir with its polymerase inhibitor ABT-333, and
> ribavirin, which is used in all current hepatitis C regimens. Patients?
> blood virus levels were checked 24 weeks later for a sustained virologic
> response. Those achieving SVR were considered cured.
> Eighteen of the 19 patients (95 percent) given 250 milligram
> doses of ABT-450 in their combination achieved SVR. Thirteen of 14 patients
> (93 percent) given 150 mg doses of ABT-450 achieved SVR.
> ?This demonstrates unprecedented cure rates for the most common
> form of hepatitis C infection,? said Scott Brun, Abbott?s divisional vice
> president for infectious disease development. Although confirming the
> effectiveness and safety of the drugs requires much larger trials, Abbot
> maintains it is on track to embark on Phase III testing early next year.
> In a third portion of the study concentrating on patients
> unresponsive to the standard regimen of interferon and ribavirin, 8 of 17
> (47 percent) achieved SVR. Abbott is hopeful an NS5A inhibitor it is
> testing in several all-oral combinations will boost SVR rates of previous
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