Hepatitis C Policy Project: Latest Hepatitis C News and Research

Latest Hepatitis C News and Research

Changing Demographics-at-risk in California: Millennials and Hepatitis C

California’s Department of Public Health is reporting that HCV infection is skyrocketing among millennials or people aged 20 to 29. A 55 percent increase among men and a 37 percent increase among women was found to have occurred over the last decade in the Golden State. This changing demographic calls for a major shift in California’s HCV screening policies and outreach programs.

For more information, see: https://www.hepmag.com/article/millennials-hepatitis-c-new-younger-crisis-california

Syringe Exchange Programs Strives to Slow Hepatitis C Infections in Alaska

Transmission of blood-born viruses like Hepatitis C is exploding due to the opioid epidemic. In some rural areas, infections have gone up by 490 percent in just the last few years. This is driving up healthcare costs in times when low oil prices have left the state in years-long financial crisis.

One program run by the Alaska AIDS Assistance Association or Four As is working to prevent the transmission and spread of disease by running a needle exchange program. Last year, Four As gave out nearly 500,000 syringes which was double the number dispensed just two years earlier.

For more information, see: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/08/29/547054395/syringe-exchange-program-aims-to-slow-hepatitis-c-infections-in-alaska

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announces first U.S. state-level HCV Elimination Strategy

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announces a new state-level HCV elimination strategy which aims to increase medication access and expand outreach programs to high-risk communities. The governor proposed to increase funding for HCV prevention, testing and treatment programs including education efforts, patient navigation and increasing prevention programs in primary care.


For more information, see: https://www.healio.com/hepatology/hepatitis-c/news/online/%7Bad6ee339-3ade-43e9-9d80-0949e504c927%7D/new-york-governor-announces-state-level-hcv-elimination-strategy and https://www.hepmag.com/article/ny-governor-announces-statewide-hepatitis-c-elimination-strategy

A New Hepatitis C Treatment Costing $300 has 97 Percent Cure Rate

The non-profit research team Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDI) announced that after a 12-week Clinical Trial conducted in Malaysia and Thailand involving new drug candidate ravidasvir and existing drug sofosbuvir showed that ravidasvir/sofosbuvir combination to be safe and effective with an extremely high cure rate.

The treatment is produced by Egyptian drug manufacturer Pharco Pharmaceuticals and costs approximately $3.50 a day. Both DNDI and Pharco hopes that this will provide a viable alternative to those who cannot afford the treatment.

For more information: see: https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/medical/24300-hepatitis-c-treatment-has-97-percent-cure-rate/ar-AAvO2xe and https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180412085720.htm

Oregon Found to Have the Highest Rates of Mortality from Hepatitis C

Recent data showed that the overall U.S. mortality rate for Hepatitis C is six deaths per 100,000 people. This makes it the deadliest infectious disease in the country with 20,000 deaths attributed to it in 2013. However, it is even deadlier in Oregon with data showing that mortality rates is as high as 15 per 100,000 or more than 500 people annually.


For more information, see: http://www.oregonlive.com/health/index.ssf/2017/04/oregon_no_1_in_hepatitis_c_dea.html

All inclusive Screening for Hepatitis C may be the Most Cost Effective Strategy to Identify Persons Infected

Current CDC recommendations include testing for highest risk population of people born between 1945 and 1965. However, due to the increasing number of injection drug users, an increase of incidence in the younger population has been seen. To address this gap, researchers from Boston Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital and Stanford University created a simulation model to estimate the effectiveness of testing across all adult age groups.

It was found that testing all adult age groups could lead to identification of an additional 250,000 people infected with the disease.

For more information, see: https://psychcentral.com/news/2018/02/18/screening-all-adults-for-hepatitis-c-is-most-cost-effective-way-to-id-those-infected/132670.html

New Jersey Expands Access to Hepatitis C Medications for Patients on Medicaid

A proposed rule change would allow patients afflicted with Hepatitis C access to medications prior to exhibiting fibrosis or liver damage. In addition, $ 10 million were allocated to expand Medicaid Hep C services beginning fiscal year 2019, which begins in July.

This is in line with overall efforts of Gov. Phil Murphy to expand coverage for the state’s vulnerable residents which includes $ 4.3 billion in state funding for Medicaid.

For more information, see: http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/18/04/01/state-expands-access-to-hepatitis-c-drugs-for-medicaid-patients/

University of Texas Health San Antonio is awarded a $6.5 million grant to study Hepatitis C in people living with HIV

In 2016, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health tested blood from 1,331 Cameron County residents and found 30 of those participants tested positive. That translates to 2.3 percent which is appreciably higher than the national average of 1.6 percent.

The University of Texas Health San Antonio was awarded a $6.5 million grant to study Hepatitis C in people living with HIV and has partnered with the Valley AIDS Council to identify people suffering from Hep C thru a two-part screening program for a period of three years.

For more information, see: http://www.valleymorningstar.com/news/local_news/million-grant-will-help-fight-hepatitis-c-in-the-valley/article_348f9332-3237-11e8-921b-abd8f8cd589b.html

Boston, New Bedford and Springfield identified as Hep C hotspots in Massachusetts using innovative techniques.

Posted on March 20, 2018

Using innovative techniques in spatial epidemiology, geographical information systems, and statistical modeling, 3 areas in Massachusetts, namely, Boston, New Bedford and Springfield has been identified as hotspots of Hepatitis C infections.

These techniques offers new tools in identifying areas where maximal benefit for Hepatitis C intervention strategies can be set up. It also offers up areas where education efforts and other support systems can give the most benefit especially in an age if limited resources.

For more information: see http://now.tufts.edu/news-releases/spatial-epidemiology-used-identify-three-key-hepatitis-c-hotspots-massachusetts

Florida State Prisons Ordered to Treat Inmates with Hepatitis C

Posted on March 20, 2018

In the Florida State prison system, between 7,000 to 20,000 inmates are believed to be infected with Hepatitis C.  Yet, only 13 of them have received treatment using direct acting retrovirals (DAA) which have been found to cure the disease due to the high cost of treatment.

Last November 17, 2017, Judge Mark Walker found that Florida corrections officials have a “long and sordid history” of failing to treat inmates infected with the Hepatitis C virus and ordered the state to immediately come up with a plan to properly provide care.

For more information, see: http://www.theledger.com/news/20171118/state-prisons-ordered-to-treat-hepatitis-c

A subset of exposed patients are resistant to Hep C.

Posted on March 20, 2018

A small subset of exposed individuals appear to be resistant to Hepatitis C infection. This phenomenon appears to be linked to enhanced Natural Killer Cell activity among this population.

for more information, see: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29063663

Idaho Appropriations Committee Approves 3 Million for Inmate Hepatitis C Treament

Idaho Joint-Finance Appropriations Committee approves 19-0 the request for $3 million supplementary budget request of the Idaho Department of Correction. Currently, roughly 30% of prisoners  or about 2,500 individuals are infected with the virus with the cost of treatment costing as much as $62,000 per inmate.


For more information, see https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/idaho/articles/2018-01-18/state-budget-panel-oks-3m-for-inmate-hepatitis-c-cure

Liver Cancer risks not linked to Hepatitis C treatment with Direct Acting Antiretrovirals

Being treated with Direct Acting Antiretrovirals (DAA) which is the treatment modality for Hepatitis C is not directly correlated with the development of liver cancer. Researchers found that development of cancer was linked with the patients’ preexisting likelihood of developing cancer rather than the use of the drug.

For more information, see https://www.healio.com/hepatology/hepatitis-c/news/online/%7Be33049e8-2b8e-47f5-ba1e-6ad01e1e88b8%7D/liver-cancer-incidence-after-hcv-therapy-linked-to-risk-factors-not-treatment%20%C2%A0

Crossing the placental barrier: Infected Moms-to-be transmit Hep C

Wisconsin has seen a doubling of women on Medicaid with hepatitis C infection in pregnancy which resulted in an increase of babies being afflicted with the liver disease.  This rapid rise of cases is attributed to the needle-sharing practices of a rising number of people addicted to opiates.

CDC estimates a 6 percent mother-to-child transmission rate nationwide which underscores the need for testing of pregnant women for the disease and an intensive education campaign to increase awareness of the disease among this population.

For more information, see https://www.drugs.com/news/tiny-opioid-victims-addicted-moms-transmit-hepatitis-c-67525.html

Minnesota Inmates sue the State for Access to Hepatitis C Antiretrovirals

5 inmates afflicted with Hepatitis in Minnesota sue the state for highly effective direct acting retrovirals. These drugs have cure rates of 95% but are priced from $26,400 to over $ 100,000 per patient.

For more information: see http://www.startribune.com/the-drug-can-cost-100-000-do-minnesota-inmates-have-a-right-to-get-it/467581443/