Pharmacy Times

Bringing Viral Hepatitis Federal Action Plan to Life

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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued an action plan called Combating the Silent Epidemic of Viral Hepatitis: Action Plan for the Prevention, Care and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis in May 2011 that calls for better strategies and methods of treating and diagnosing new and existing cases of viral hepatitis. The main goals of the new model are to increase the percentage of people who are aware of their hepatitis B or C virus infections, a 25% reduction in the number of new cases of HCV infection, and the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HBV.

The plan stresses how 2.7 to 3.9 million people in the United States have hepatitis C and don’t know it, and that viral hepatitis is currently the leading cause of liver transplantation. Over time, researchers have found treatments for HCV and caused the decline of transmissions, but counseling and prevention available for childhood vaccinations for HBV and young adult awareness has not been as affective. By implementing the new plan under the post-reform health care system, HHS is hoping to increase counseling and prevention sessions to go along with an anticipated 2011 licensure of the first agents designed to directly attack and eliminate HCV.

Additionally, the plan builds upon the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and will improve patient access to viral hepatitis health education, testing, vaccination, and treatment. Two of 6 topic areas that correspond to the 2010 Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommendations include (1) education providers and communities to reduce health disparities and (2) protecting patients and workers from health care associated viral hepatitis.