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Hepatitis Testing Day is May 19, 2017. Visit the CDC testing page by clicking the image below. See more events on our Events page.
There was never a specific moment where I said, “Today is the day I start my HCV advocacy work.” For me, it evolved as the landscape around hepatitis C drugs began changing.
When we started using interferon-free regimens for the first time — for us, it was off-label with simeprevir/sofosbuvir (Olysio, Janssen/Sovaldi, Gilead Sciences) — to treat our many patients with HIV coinfection, we found ourselves restricted by insurance companies.
The advocacy work developed from the natural frustration of not being able to obtain these curative medications for my patients.
Note: This is great news! Kudos to everyone who made this happen – Alan for www.hcvadvocate.org
Wolf Administration Announces Medicaid Policy Change for Individuals Suffering from Hepatitis C Virus
Harrisburg, PA – Today, the Department of Human Services (DHS) is announcing changes to the state’s Medicaid (MA) policy to expand coverage of life-saving drugs to treat Hepatitis C (HCV) virus. Beginning on July 1, the Department will begin phasing in coverage for individuals who have liver function test scores of “F1” or “F0”.
HCV test scores are categorized by the severity of the disease from F0 through F4, with F0 being the least severe form of the disease and F4 being the most severe. Prior to this announcement, the department provided health care coverage through Medicaid for individuals whose scores ranged from F2 through F4 unless they also had other clinical complications.
“Today’s announcement means that thousands of vulnerable Pennsylvanians will soon have easier access to pharmaceuticals that can cure HCV,” said DHS Secretary Ted Dallas. “Moving forward, the severity of this disease can no longer prevent all MA beneficiaries from getting access to treatment if they need it.”
The policy change follows the clinical recommendations presented by the department’s Pharmacy & Therapeutics Committee.
Under the new policy, the department will authorize the drugs for beneficiaries with test scores of F1 starting on July 1, 2017 and will authorize treatment for beneficiaries with scores of F0 starting on January 1, 2018. Adding F0 and F1 will ensure that all qualified individuals with HCV will have access to pharmaceuticals that can now cure this disease.
HCV is a communicable disease that causes chronic inflammation throughout the body and can lead to serious liver damage, cancer, and death. At least 20,000 people in the United States die each year due to liver disease caused by HCV, making it the deadliest communicable disease in the country. Individuals with HCV can suffer from diabetes, lymphoma, fatigue, joint pain, depression, and other diseases even before reaching the advanced state of the disease.
“Pennsylvania’s new approach will directly improve the lives of many of our clients – some of Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable citizens,” said Laval Miller Wilson, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Health Law Project (PHLP).
“I would like to thank Laval, Amy Hirsch, Kevin Costello and everyone at PHLP, Community Legal Services, Kairys Rudovsky, Messing & Feinberg, and Center for Health Law & Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School who worked with the department on finding a path forward,” said Secretary Dallas. “Their help has been invaluable throughout the process and been a critical component of being able to make today’s announcement.”
MEDIA CONTACT: Rachel Kostelac – 7174257606
Note: Since Type 2 diabetes (T2D) has been linked to hepatitis C in some studies, I thought this might be of interest to our readers. -Alan for www.hcvadvocate.org
Using a glucose meter to check and monitor blood sugar is a daily part of life for millions of Americans with diabetes.
Glucose meters and test strips are medical devices regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. And the FDA wants to make sure you use these devices safely. Read on for advice.
Beware of Buying Previously Owned Test Strips
The FDA is aware that some sellers are marketing pre-owned or secondhand test strips to consumers. These are unused test strips previously owned by someone else.
These pre-owned strips may be sold at lower prices when compared to new strips. For instance, you may see flyers advertising cheap test strips in your neighborhood, or you may see sellers marketing cheap test strips online.
It is technically legal for people to resell their test strips. But the FDA does not recommend that you buy pre-owned test strips or that you resell your unused strips.
That’s because pre-owned strips can give incorrect results—and may not be safe to use with your device.
- Test strips should be properly stored to give accurate results. If you buy pre-owned strips, it is hard to know whether the strips were stored properly. Test strips also could be expired. A lack of proper storage or using expired strips could put you at risk for getting incorrect results from your glucose meter. And incorrect results can put you at risk for serious health complications—and even death.
- Test strip vials that have been opened by another person may have small amounts of blood on them, which can put you at risk for infection.
- Pre-owned test strip vials may have been tampered with, which means that they may not be safe to use. (For instance, the expiration dates might have been changed or covered up.)
- Pre-owned strips also may not have been cleared by the FDA for sale in the United States. (If instructions aren’t in English or the strips look different than other strips of the same brand, this can be a sign of unsafe strips.)
The bottom line? The FDA recommends that you buy unopened vials of glucose test strips designed for your meter—and that you do not buy pre-owned test strips.
Talk to your health care provider if you are not sure where to buy test strips for your glucose meter or if you cannot afford to buy the test strips recommended for use with your meter.
7 More Safety Considerations for Glucose Meters and Test Strips
You may be a pro at testing your blood sugar levels. But consider these safety reminders.
Follow instructions carefully. Glucose meters and test strips are sold with instructions for use. You can call the manufacturer of your device or your health care provider if you have questions.
Ask your health care provider to watch you test yourself. He or she can tell you if you are using your device correctly.
Do quality control checks of your device. Regularly test your meter using a control solution to make sure the test strips and meter are working properly together. (Read the meter’s instructions for use to see how often you should test it.)
Understand what the meter display means. Be sure you know how high and low glucose values are displayed on your meter. Sometimes they are displayed as “LO” or “HI” when the glucose level is beyond the range than the meter can measure. Talk to your health care provider if you have questions.
Know which test site gives the most accurate results. Readings from other areas of your body may not be as correct as fingertip readings.
- Readings from alternate sites—such as your forearm or palm—can be less accurate than fingertip readings when your glucose levels change quickly (like after you eat or during exercise).
- Take a reading from a fingertip if you think your blood glucose is low, if you don’t normally have symptoms when your blood glucose is low, or if results from an alternate test site don’t match how you feel.
Know when and how to clean and disinfect your glucose meter. Cleaning and disinfection instructions can vary, so always read and follow the directions in your manual.
Know when to report device problems. In an emergency, call 9-1-1. For non-emergencies, the FDA encourages you to report any issues to MedWatch, the FDA’s voluntary reporting program. (Problems may include devices that don’t work, suspected incorrect results, or any other problem with your meter or test strips.)
This article appears on the FDA’s Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.
Updated: May 16, 2017
Published: March 18, 2008
Stay informed on consumer health information, including practical health and wellness tips, and the latest safety info on FDA-regulated products and public health issues. Subscribe to Consumer Update email
Note: It’s important that all eligible veterans get test for hepatitis C since the Veterans Administration will treat and cure all veterans. Alan for www.hcvadvocate.org
(BPT) – U.S. veterans are three times more likely than the general population to have chronic hepatitis C, a serious liver disease caused by a virus that affects about 3.5 million Americans. This increased risk, which is greatest for baby boomer veterans (born between 1945 and 1965), may be due in part to exposure to infected blood during combat. However, unlike some viral diseases, treatment of chronic hepatitis C can lead to cure of the infection. Cure means the virus is no longer detected in the blood when measured at least three months after treatment is completed.
Chronic hepatitis C has been called a “silent” disease because it slowly damages the liver, often without showing any symptoms, which makes it difficult to diagnose until after problems with the liver have already developed. About half of Americans with chronic hepatitis C, including many of our nation’s veterans, are unaware they are infected.
“It is important for veterans to understand their risk for chronic hepatitis C, because this infection can have serious consequences,” said Dr. Eric Lawitz, hepatologist at the Texas Liver Institute in San Antonio, Texas, and a U.S. veteran. “Chronic hepatitis C infection can eventually lead to serious liver damage, liver failure or liver cancer.”
Unfortunately, I was on vacation and missed National Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Day (May 12) – Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a debilitating disease! The Guide may help to manage some of the symptoms of the disease. Click here
Note: Unfortunately, there are no HCV medications that have been tested in pregnant women to prevent mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis C. Alan for the HCV Advocate Website.
THURSDAY, May 11, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Chalk up another potential consequence of the U.S. opioid epidemic: The prevalence of hepatitis C infections among pregnant women nearly doubled between 2009 and 2014, U.S. health officials report.
Hepatitis C — which is caused most often by injection drug use — rose 89 percent nationwide among pregnant women. Increases were most notable in West Virginia and rural counties in Tennessee, areas hard-hit by the heroin and prescription painkiller epidemic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.