Washington, DC (March 27, 2018) – The National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable (NVHR) today called for immediate passage of the Eliminating Opioid-Related Infectious Diseases Act, a bill that would increase funding for fighting infectious diseases like hepatitis B and C.
Congressman Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA) introduced the bipartisan legislation (H.R. 5353) on March 20, 2018. A Senate companion bill (S. 2579) has been introduced by Senators Todd Young (R-IN) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA). The Eliminating Opioid-Related Infectious Diseases Act would expand surveillance and education about infections associated with injection drug use. The bill would appropriate $40 million for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention to implement programs that address the high rates of infectious diseases such as hepatitis B and C, which have been dangerously on the rise because of the opioid crisis.
Skyrocketing rates of infection with hepatitis B and hepatitis C are among the devastating public health consequences of the opioid crisis in the United States. Hepatitis C is the deadliest infectious disease in America, killing nearly 20,000 people in 2014 alone, and injection drug use is the cause of most new infections. From 2010 to 2015, the number of new hepatitis C infections jumped by 294 percent, with particularly sharp increases among states hardest hit by the opioid crisis. Reported cases of hepatitis B, which can also be transmitted via injection drug use, increased 20.7 percent in 2015.
The underfunding of surveillance and testing programs for hepatitis B and C has contributed in part to the explosion of these epidemics. “Even a modest increase in funding would help communities hard-hit by the opioid crisis and suffering from high rates of hepatitis B and C,” said Elizabeth Paukstis, NVHR’s Public Policy Director. “The Eliminating Opioid-Related Infectious Diseases Act would take a step in the right direction by allocating desperately needed funding toward the prevention of these devastating diseases.”
“Because of the direct link between injectable opioid use and hepatitis B and C, any initiative to tackle the opioid crisis in America must include a robust effort to screen, provide hepatitis B vaccination, and treat people for hepatitis B and C,” said Dr. Stacey Trooskin, Director of Viral Hepatitis Programs at Philadelphia FIGHT Community Health Centers. “We cannot afford to ignore the tragic public health consequence of this crisis any longer. The Eliminating Opioid-Related Infectious Diseases Act is commonsense legislation that should be passed and enacted without delay.”
About NVHR: The National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable (NVHR) is a national coalition working together to eliminate hepatitis B and C in the United States. NVHR’s vision is a healthier world without hepatitis B and C.
About 9,500 people treated at dental clinics in Texas City and Galveston over the past three years will be notified about potential exposure to hepatitis and HIV as a result of poor sanitation at the facilities, the Galveston County Health District announced Friday.
After what officials called a “very scary” breach of medical protocols, the district was preparing to activate a medical hotline and offer thousands of free screenings for people who might have been exposed to the diseases.
The concerns about possible infection was first raised 38 days ago. In that time, the district has not identified anyone infected during treatment at the Coastal Health & Wellness Clinics in Texas City and Galveston, said Dr. Philip Keiser, the Galveston County local health authority.
Testing for hepatitis C, a major cause of liver cancer, is lagging behind among the group of Americans with the highest rate of infection: baby boomers.
A study published Tuesday showed that only about 13 percent of baby boomers were tested in 2015, up just slightly from 12 percent in 2013. U.S. public health authorities recommend all people in that demographic — those born between 1945 and 1965 — be screened for hepatitis C.
“If we want to make a dent in the rising rate of liver cancer, we need to get the population with a high rate of infection screened and treated,” said Susan Vadaparampil, the study’s senior author and a researcher at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa.
There is a possible association between hepatitis C (HCV) and Fibromyalgia (FM). Hepatitis C and FM share many symptoms such as fatigue, depression, cognitive issues, muscle and joint pain. The exact association has not been discovered, but many experts believe that HCV may act as a trigger to the onset of FM. Of interest, one study found that people with FM and HCV exhibit symptoms such as inflammation around joints, bursa (sac containing fluid for lubrication of joints) and/or tendons, and vasculitis (blood or lymph vessel inflammation), that are not seen in FM in people without HCV.
The prevalence of FM in people with hepatitis C has been found to be much higher than in the general population – 15% to 19% compared to approximately 2% of FM seen in the general U.S. population.
Of note, FM is believed to be triggered by viral infections. If we can test, treat and cure hepatitis C as early as possible there is a very real possibility that we can prevent many of these extrahepatic manifestations such as FM.
Treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection with ledipasvir/sofosbuvir (LDV/SOF) for 8 weeks may be equally as effective at achieving remission as longer-term (12-week) treatment, according to research recently published in the Journal of Hepatology.
Researchers compared several cohorts of patients registered in the German National Hepatitis C Registry who had previously received either 8 or 12 weeks of oral LDV/SOF: Intention-to-Treat Group 1 (ITT1, the safety population), who had received either 8 weeks (n=968) or 12 weeks (n=1,415) of oral LDV/SOF; Intention-to-Treat Group 2 (ITT2, the effectiveness population) either 8 weeks (n=877) or 12 weeks (n=1,275) of oral LDV/SOF and also completed follow-up; and the per protocol analysis group (PP, total N=2066; n=835 for 8-week treatment, n=1231 for 12-week treatment).
More than 84% (2,034/2,404) of the safety population (ITT1) and 98% (2,029/2,066) of the per protocol (PP) population achieved sustained HCV virological response at week 12.
LANCASTER – It was a long battle for Lancaster Police Officer Marvin “Scott” Moyer, who contracted hepatitis C while being kind to a man, who led police in a car chase, 20 years ago.
Moyer, fondly known as “Scottie” by the officers who served alongside him, died in hospice care last May. He was 66. Moyer’s name will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., with a candlelight vigil to honor him and other officers in May.
Moyer, of Bremen, was added to the list of Lancaster Police Department’s fallen officers because he was able to trace back the moment he was exposed to blood as a patrolman on Feb. 25, 1998.
Successful treatment of cirrhotic patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) with direct-acting interferon (IFN)-free antiviral therapy did not increase the risk of incident hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), researchers said, nor was it associated with increased nodule size or number in those diagnosed with HCC.
According to a Scottish study published in the Journal of Hepatology, the elevated risk suggested by previous research was attenuated after accounting for differing characteristics between patients given regimens with or without interferon.
While initial univariate analysis found that IFN-free therapy was associated with more than double the risk, that risk all but disappeared after multivariate adjustment for baseline variables.