In the early 1980s, more than 2,000 Canadians
who received blood transfusions were infected with HIV, and as many as
30,000 contracted Hepatitis C.
This scandal, and the royal commission
of inquiry chaired by retired justice Horace Krever that followed,
resulted in the overhaul of our blood donation system to ensure the
safety of any blood products.
This made Canada one of the safest countries for blood transfusion.
Among the recommendations from the
Krever commission was that Canada should not pay donors for blood or
plasma, except in rare circumstances.
This is in line with the World Health
Organization’s recommendation that all governments should strive for the
safest process: using unpaid, voluntary blood and plasma donors.
Unfortunately, we are moving toward
exactly the opposite in Canada: paying cash for blood products.
In recent months, a private, for-profit
company called Canadian Plasma Resources has announced its intention to
begin paying donors for plasma. It has opened three clinics in Ontario
and begun to collect plasma, despite new legislation introduced by the
Ontario government to prevent paid blood product donation.
CONCORD — While two bills filed in response to
the Exeter Hospital hepatitis C crisis are moving forward, one will
progress with a drastically different look.
Bill 597 would have originally required random drug testing for health
care employees in the state, but it appears that the random drug testing
part of the bill is now being taken out of the equation.
On August 22nd, 2013 the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in
Health (CADTH) released a call for patient input into Janssen Inc.’s new
HCV drug, SIMEPREVIR. In order to prepare our Patient Group submission
by the Sept. 13th deadline, HepCBC is ASKING for INPUT from HCV+ people
and caregivers from throughout Canada, by Wednesday, Sept. 11th. CLICK HERE
to ADD YOUR VOICE in determining whether this new treatment should be
available in Canada, by contributing your ideas and experiences to
HepCBC’s group submission.
VANCOUVER – A municipality in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley is
defending an eight-year-old bylaw that has prevented health officials
from offering harm-reduction services to drug users, suggesting the
provision doesn’t, in fact, ban programs such as clean-needle
A group of three drug users filed a lawsuit against the City of
Abbotsford in May, alleging the bylaw violates their constitutional
rights because it prevents them from accessing services that could
prevent overdoses and diseases such as hepatitis.
A physician recommended that Edward Fernandez of Stone Mountain get a hepatitis C test during his annual physical last year. Fernandez was in the target age bracket, so he agreed to have the test. It turned out he did not have hepatitis C.
A few weeks later, he received a bill from a lab company for $157.67 –
chiefly, he says, for the hepatitis C test, which was not covered by
Fernandez considered the charge unfair. He fought it for more than a
year, and though the test was finally covered this week, there were
plenty of problems along the way. Last month, for instance, his account
was turned over to a collection agency.
An influential health advisory group has reversed itself and concluded
that all baby boomers should be tested for hepatitis C, meaning that
under the new health law many insurance plans will have to provide
screening without charge to patients.
The group, the United States Preventive Services Task Force, announced its change of heart on Monday, saying there was likely to be some benefit from such screening.
This is great news – the grade from USPSTF was changed from a grade C to grade B which means that screening for HCV in people born between 1945 and 1965 will be covered by medical insurance and in the Affordable Care Act. This is a game changer—Alan Franciscus
Description: Update of the 2004 U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendation on screening for and treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in asymptomatic adults.
Methods: The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality commissioned 2 systematic reviews on screening for and treatment of HCV infection in asymptomatic adults, focusing on evidence gaps identified in the previous USPSTF recommendation and new studies published since 2004. The evidence on screening for HCV in pregnant women was also considered.
Population: This recommendation applies to all asymptomatic adults without known liver disease or functional abnormalities.
Recommendation: The USPSTF recommends screening for HCV infection in persons at high risk for infection. The USPSTF also recommends offering 1-time screening for HCV infection to adults born between 1945 and 1965. (B recommendation)
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) makes recommendations about the effectiveness of specific preventive care services for patients without related signs or symptoms.
It bases its recommendations on the evidence of both the benefits and harms of the service and an assessment of the balance. The USPSTF does not consider the costs of providing a service in this assessment.
The USPSTF recognizes that clinical decisions involve more considerations than evidence alone.
Clinicians should understand the evidence but individualize decision making to the specific patient or situation. Similarly, the USPSTF notes that policy and coverage decisions involve considerations in addition to the evidence of clinical benefits and harms.
The Emergency Department at the University of Alabama at Birmingham
(UAB) Hospital will begin testing baby boomers for the hepatitis C
virus (HCV) in August 2013. All patients born between 1945 and 1965 who
present at the ED for any cause will be offered a blood test for HCV as
part of their routine examination.
The testing is part of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) initiative designed to identify patients with HVC and get them
into appropriate treatment. The CDC estimates that one-time testing of
all Baby Boomers could detect 800,000 additional people with hepatitis C
and save more than 120,000 lives because 75 percent of these infections
are curable with new treatments.
“We anticipate screening between 8,000 and 12,000 Baby Boomers for
HCV in 2013 and expect to identify between 260 to 400 new cases of HCV
infection at UAB,” said James Galbraith, M.D., associate professor of
emergency medicine and head of the UAB HIV and HCV screening programs.
“The overall target is the approximate 3.2 million people in the United
States who the CDC estimates have chronic hepatitis C virus infection —
many of whom are unaware they are infected because they don’t look or