Twelve health care organizations will be recognized at a White House ceremony tomorrow, May 19, for their outstanding commitment to increasing the number of individuals who are aware of their hepatitis B and C status. Karen B. DeSalvo, M.D., M.P.H., M.Sc., acting assistant secretary for health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will present awards as part of the annual National Hepatitis Testing Day observance. The event will be webcast live at www.WhiteHouse.gov/LIVE from 10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. EDT.
Viral hepatitis is an underappreciated issue affecting our nation’s health. An estimated 850,000 Americans have hepatitis B and 3.5 million have hepatitis C. Fewer than half of those with chronic hepatitis B and C are aware of their status. When people remain unaware, they cannot take advantage of life-saving treatments and remain at risk for serious liver disease, including cirrhosis and liver cancer, as well as for transmitting the virus to others. Since 2012, deaths associated with hepatitis C outpaced deaths due to all 60 other infectious diseases that are required to be reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2014, the number of hepatitis C-related deaths reached an all-time high of 19,659.
“Increasing testing for hepatitis B and C is a critical part of ensuring good health for all Americans,” said Dr. DeSalvo. “With coordinated efforts by diverse partners like those being recognized today, we can reduce deaths and disparities in hepatitis B and C and improve the lives of people living with chronic viral hepatitis.”
This is the first time HHS is presenting awards for hepatitis testing. Nominations for hepatitis testing recognition were solicited from CDC-funded state Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinators and from national partners engaged in implementing the Viral Hepatitis Action Plan. The 12 non-profit organizations being honored were selected based on criteria that included their success in reaching out to underserved populations and getting people tested and linked into care.
Richard Wolitski, PhD, acting director of the HHS Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, said that partnerships – both public and private – are essential to the hepatitis work HHS does. “I am impressed and inspired by the dedication and motivation of organizations, like those being recognized today, and others across the nation, that are working to eliminate viral hepatitis,” he said.
The honorees include four programs that conduct hepatitis B testing, four that conduct hepatitis C testing and four that test for both hepatitis B and C.
HEPATITIS TESTING DAY AWARD RECIPIENTS 2016
HEPATITIS B TESTING
CHARLES B. WANG COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTER (NEW YORK, N.Y.)
Charles B. Wang Community Health Center is a Federally Qualified Health Center that serves foreign-born Asian communities in New York City. The Center strives to screen all high-risk patients for HBV, and works with community partners and volunteers (including college, graduate and medical students) to increase in-language screening in underserved communities. Health center staffers use an electronic medical record (EMR) risk-based system to ensure that all patients are screened. They also created a Hep B Moms program to screen and educate moms to ensure that they and their babies receive appropriate care and treatment.
DALLAS-FORT WORTH HBV FREE PROJECT (DALLAS/FORT WORTH, TEXAS)
Medical students at the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center, lead this project, which engages Asian and African immigrant populations, including Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese communities across the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. The project provides culturally and linguistically appropriate hepatitis B virus (HBV) education, vaccination and screening, and refers those with HBV to care with private practitioners or partner hospital systems. The project also maintains a database to collect screening data/trends and conducts important HBV research.
HOLY NAME MEDICAL CENTER (TEANECK, N.J.)
Kyung Hee Choi
Holy Name Medical Center provides culturally sensitive care to Chinese and Korean patients with limited English proficiency. Holy Name provides detailed HBV information and treatment plans through its Asian Liver Center and Asian Health Services program. The latter program offers community outreach events and educational seminars in Chinese by the Chinese Medical Program’s (CMP) customer navigator and a CMP physician. The navigator program ensures individuals who test positive for HBV are referred to follow-up care.
KALIHI PALAMA HEALTH CENTER (HONOLULU, HAWAII)
Kalihi Palama Health Center (KPHC) is a Federally Qualified Health Center that primarily serves foreign-born Asian or Pacific Islanders (APIs) in urban Honolulu. KPHC collaborated with the Hawaii Department of Health) and Hep Free Hawaii to offer HBV testing to foreign-born API clients who present for medical services. KPHC’s in-house referral system also links to culturally appropriate and in-language follow-up services within clients’ medical homes.
HEPATITIS C TESTING
C A DIFFERENCE (PHILADELPHIA, PA.)
C A Difference has become a model for successful hepatitis C (HCV) outreach by providing complete testing and linkage to care in both clinical and community-based settings. C A Difference’s success lies in a combination of education and training, using an EMR to identify patients for testing, doing routine reflex testing to improve confirmatory test results, providing linkage to care, developing partnerships with organizations that serve populations at risk and sharing data reports back to program sites to support continuous quality improvement.
CHEROKEE NATION (OKLAHOMA)
In 2015, the Cherokee Nation identified high rates of hepatitis C as a public health priority, and developed Hepatitis C in Native Oklahoma: Optimizing Care and Setting a Path Towards Elimination of Disease and Disparity, an innovative, multi-party collaborative effort in response. The program aims to improve the health of American Indians in the Cherokee Nation Health Service by developing a community-based program to test, treat and cure HCV; increasing public awareness; and collecting and analyzing data to inform future HCV prevention, care and treatment efforts.
RHODE ISLAND DEFEATS HEPATITIS C (PROVIDENCE, R.I.)
Rhode Island Defeats Hepatitis C (RID Hep C) is a comprehensive program to identify, treat, and eliminate chronic HCV in Rhode Island. The program works to enhance proactive HCV care and bring resources into the state to help combat the epidemic. RID Hep C holds multiple HCV-related advocacy and educational events, runs an on-site HCV clinic in a non-profit methadone maintenance program and works to increase the number of physicians available to treat HCV.
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS HEALTH SCIENCE CENTER AT SAN ANTONIO REACH (CENTER FOR RESEARCH TO ADVANCE COMMUNITY HEALTH) CENTER (SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS)
To improve screening and linkage to care for south Texas baby boomers with chronic HCV, the research team developed patient education materials on HCV infection and care, including a mobile app in English and Spanish. The team also developed an EMR algorithm to identify patients born from 1945 through 1965 who have no record of HCV testing or diagnosis. Patients who test positive for HCV gain access to a bilingual case manager/counselor who can answer questions about HCV and address issues of alcohol consumption, depression, and barriers to specialty care. A “promotora” telephones patients to coordinate follow-up testing and linkage to care.
HEPATITIS B AND C TESTING
ASIAN PACIFIC HEALTH FOUNDATION (SAN DIEGO, CALIF.)
Binh Tran (Accepted by Sandy Chong)
Asian Pacific Health Foundation (APHF) is a non-profit organization that provides medical education and free health screenings to San Diego County residents. Through a team of dedicated volunteers, APHF reaches out to underserved communities to dispel misconceptions on the transmission, prevention, and treatment of HBV and HCV. APHF reaches communities with limited English proficiency through Asian ethnic media, including Vietnamese language radio and television programs. APHF also partners with the University of California, San Diego, to increase HBV awareness among health professionals.
HBV INITIATIVE OF WASHINGTON, DC (WASHINGTON, D.C.)
The Hepatitis B Initiative of Washington DC (HBI-DC) serves Asian and African refugee and immigrant populations in the DC metro area, and also mentors other HBV initiatives around the country. The program has responded to the needs of the populations they serve, providing both HBV and HCV testing and building partnerships to connect with communities that have limited English proficiency. HBI-DC links individuals who test positive to care at local health clinics and through an NIH clinical trial program. HBI-DC developed a customized database designed to improve efficiency and productivity in collecting screening data, generating data reports and analyzing trends.
HEP FREE HAWAII (HONOLULU, HAWAII)
Heather Lusk (Accepted by Chris Taylor)
Hep Free Hawaii leverages partnerships statewide to provide free HBV and HCV testing in community-based settings. The organization also collaborates with local pharmacies to provide hepatitis assessments and referrals to primary care for screening and vaccination for clients coming in for pharmacy services. Hep Free Hawaii is currently collaborating with these partners to integrate point-of-care HCV antibody testing at pharmacies and pharmacy-based clinics.
WYOMING DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH COMMUNICABLE DISEASE UNIT (WYOMING)
The Wyoming Department of Health Communicable Disease Unit (CDU) supports extensive low- and no-cost HBV/HCV testing at more than 40 public health nursing, family planning, and community health clinics across the state. CDU uses Knowyo.org, the state’s current HIV/STD social marketing campaign, to encourage and enhance testing. Clinics participating in the campaign are trained to conduct risk-based screening, do motivational interviews, provide vaccinations for hepatitis A and B, link positives to appropriate medical care and support confirmatory RNA testing for all anti-HCV positives tested through the campaign.
About National Viral Hepatitis Testing Day
National Viral Hepatitis Testing Day is an annual CDC-sponsored observance. This year, HHS and Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy are collaborating with the White House Office of National AIDS Policy and Office of National Drug Control Policy for the Hepatitis Testing Day event to highlight the impact of viral hepatitis in the United States, progress on implementing the Viral Hepatitis Action Plan, and the intersection of hepatitis with both HIV infection and the ongoing opioid epidemic.