The Caring Ambassadors Program uses a unique approach in our work to address the elimination of viral hepatitis and specifically hepatitis C.

Our three main methods to combat hepatitis C are to Empower patients and providers to increase their knowledge of hepatitis C to improve access a cure; to Educate systems and communities on how to integrate viral hepatitis services into existing programming; and to Advocate on behalf of patients and communities to create sound policy, funding and messaging. We are honored to serve the community to help eliminate the largest infectious disease outbreak of our time; we promise to be BOLD in our approach to creating paths to health and making hepatitis C history.

Weekly News Update.
Caring Ambassadors Program provides 3 weekly news updates covering Lung Cancer News, Hepatitis C News, and My Choices© Update. Receive them delivered weekly to your inbox.

Weekly News Update

Hepatitis C News

Week Ending January 30, 2023

Fewer Medi-Cal patients got crucial treatment for hepatitis C amid pandemic
“Fewer people have gotten crucial medication for hepatitis C under Medi-Cal in recent years, troubling advocates who have pushed to expand the lifesaving treatment. Hepatitis C, a slow-moving virus that can lead to liver cancer, cirrhosis and death, can now be cured in most cases with a few months of direct-acting antiviral medication. California has taken steps to dismantle barriers to obtaining the pills under Medi-Cal, the California Medicaid program, including eliminating requirements for prior authorization.”

Just 1 Out of 4 Medicaid Enrollees with Opioid Use Disorder Screened for HIV, Hepatitis B, or Hepatitis C
“Injection drug users are at higher risk of getting HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Yet most Medicaid enrollees with opioid use disorder are not screened for these viruses. WESA’s Sarah Boden reports.”

New WHO study: Making diagnosis of hepatitis C more accessible and closer to the community using point-of-care HCV viral load assays
“Today, Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology published a key new WHO-led study in collaboration with the University of Bristol showing the benefit of using a quick clinic-based diagnostic test for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection over a standard laboratory-based test.”

New Cherokee program helps people battling addiction
“A new “harm-reduction” program launched by the Cherokee Nation was designed to help people battling opioid addiction. The program also should help prevent diseases like AIDS and hepatitis C fanned by transmission of blood-borne pathogens, health officials say.”

Hepatitis C During Pregnancy Linked to Worse Outcomes
“Active hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection during pregnancy is associated with premature birth, and a high viral load increases the risk of vertical transmission, according to findings published in the Journal of Hepatology. However, only a minority of infants born to mothers with HCV are screened for the infection, as is recommended by treatment guidelines.”

FDA moves to ease rules for blood donations from gay men
“The U.S. is moving to further ease restrictions on blood donations from gay and bisexual men and other groups that typically face higher risks of HIV. The Food and Drug Administration on Friday announced draft guidelines that would do away with the current three-month abstinence requirement for donations from men who have sex with men. Instead, all potential donors would be screened with a new questionnaire that evaluates their individual risks for HIV based on sexual behavior, recent partners and other factors.”

My Choices© Update

Week Ending January 30, 2023

NASH Patients Suffer Liver Symptoms and Bureaucratic Dysfunction
“Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis patients, health care providers and researchers must feel like they are navigating their way toward effective medications and better outcomes at a frustrating ratio of one step forward, two steps back. Every piece of good news seems to trigger an accompanying setback.”

These 4 healthy eating patterns are associated with a lower risk of death, study finds
“Your dietary pattern may help predict how long you live. This is the conclusion from a new study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association assessing diet quality and mortality. The study found that individuals that consumed a more nutrient-dense diet were less likely to die early.”

Omega-3 fatty acids from seafood may lower the risk of chronic kidney problems
“A new study suggests that by including fish-rich omega-3 fatty acids in their diet, people can reduce their risk of chronic kidney disease.”

Mindfulness exercises can help relieve anxiety as effectively as medications like Lexapro
“If you’re looking for a way to treat your anxiety without medication, a recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that mindfulness-based interventions such as breath awareness exercises, body scans, and mindful movement, like stretching, may be as effective as taking medication.”

Adding one handful of walnuts to the diet can provide good nutrition
“A new study from researchers at Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington has found that adding one ounce of walnuts (or one handful) to the diet of children and adults who do not normally eat nuts improves diet quality and intake of some under-consumed nutrients of public health importance. Consistent evidence shows that walnuts as a snack or within a meal can provide good nutrition and be part of a healthy diet for life.”

Massive study uncovers how much exercise is needed to live longer
“Consistent exercise is good for a person’s health and well-being—that is well known. But how many minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity are needed to lower the risk of premature mortality? A study published in the journal Circulation defines that number and shares guidance on what level of physical activity is needed to maintain health and improve fitness.”

Non-invasive Neurotechnology Reduces Symptoms of Insomnia and Improves Autonomic Nervous System Function
“Newswise — WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Jan. 27, 2023 – A good night’s sleep is crucial to health and well-being. Numerous research studies have shown that insomnia can increase the risk of cardiovascular events, obesity, diabetes and other illnesses. Now, a new study from researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine shows significant improvements in not only sleep quality, but also in improved autonomic nervous system function using a closed-loop, acoustic stimulation neurotechnology.”

UW-Madison: Following pandemic, educators are not all right, but meditation could ease burden
“MADISON – Approaching the 3-year anniversary of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many can attest to the mental health challenges that came with the sudden changes to everyday life as the disease took hold. In schools, teachers and support staff were forced to revamp lesson plans for virtual and hybrid learning environments, all while toggling between remote and in-person duties and supervising at-home learning. How did these stressors affect school system employees? Not well, confirms a newly published study from researchers at University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Center for Health Minds.”

The time is now. 71 million people worldwide are living with chronic Hepatitis C right now. It is the largest chronic infectious disease outbreak of our time…and it’s curable. Talk to your doctor about treatment for your Hepatitis C, and don’t take no for an answer.

CDC recommends testing all adult patients for hepatitis C.

Get Tested.

Get Cured.

MY CHOICES© is a tool to help you recognize and act upon what you can control in your health care journey to achieve optimal healing, regardless of the illness you face. It contains elements of a guide book, health planner, journal, and activity book to help orient you to and plan for the journey ahead.

Use the arrows on the sides to scroll through content!

Hepatitis C News Update

Alabama Agrees to Lift Medicaid Ban on Hepatitis C Drugs “Alabama’s state Medicaid program and the US Department of Justice reached a settlement that will allow Alabama residents with substance use disorders to receive hepatitis C medication.” Project in Rural Kentucky Shows Progress Toward Hepatitis C Elimination “Three quarters of people who currently or previously used drugs completed treatment for hepatitis C and about two thirds were cured in a low-barrier program in a rural Appalachian community, according to findings presented at the AASLD Liver Meeting.” Vosevi effective rescue therapy in patients with chronic HCV after DAA treatment failure “WASHINGTON — Vosevi, a triple-combination therapy for chronic hepatitis C virus infection, was effective when used as a rescue treatment in patients who did not achieve sustained virologic response with direct-acting antiviral agents.” Impact of Direct-Acting Antiviral Use for Chronic Hepatitis C on Health Care Costs in Medicaid: Economic Model Update “Curative direct-acting antivirals for chronic hepatitis C provide a net economic benefit to Medicaid in less than 1 year. Cumulative savings to date have exceeded $15 billion.” Correlation between serum liver fibrosis markers and early gastroesophageal varices among patients with compensated liver cirrhosis: a cross-sectional analysis “Portal hypertension is a common complication of chronic liver diseases responsible for most liver cirrhosis consequences. In patients with portal hypertension, oesophagogastric variceal bleeding is a leading cause of death.”

Hepatitis Awareness Month

hep·a·ti·tis

noun
a disease characterized by inflammation of the liver.

Hepatitis C kills more Americans than HIV. Hepatitis C is a fully curable and preventation virus that causes liver inflammation that can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer if left untreated. 2.4 million Americans are infected with the hepatitis C virus. About 1 million of those Americans have no idea. About 45% of those infected with the virus have no idea they are slowly dying.

Newsweek, April 22, 2002

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is not a new problem. The virus was identified in 1989, and the first interferon treatment was released in 1991, and direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) targeting HCV began in 2011. DAAs allow people to be cured of HCV with less side effects and less time that the first treatments. There is a cure. No one else needs to die.

Congress has refused to fund the elimination of the hepatitis C virus for deacdes. Congress has allocated only 10% of the needed money to eliminate hepatitis and save millions of Americans. Hepatitis will not wait, why is Congress?

Call Congress today and tell them to fund hepatitis elimination after years of inaction. 202-224-3121

Get Tested. Get Cured.

 

 

National Nutrition Month

We have all heard it before,

“You are what you eat.” 

Nourishing your body through any journey is essential. According to the CDC, fewer than 1 in 10 American adults and adolescents eat enough fruit and vegetables. An unhealthy diet can lead to increased chances of some cancers and type 2 diabetes.

Many illnesses can affect the way the body is able to process nutrients. Even some treatments have side effects that influence the bodies ability to use the fuel foods provide. Fueling your body correctly can actually help treatments be more effective.

Knowing the current dietary guidelines can help you make healthier decisions on your journey.

It’s not only about how much you eat, but what you eat plays a significant role in your wellness. There are many ways that you can approach improving your diet. You can learn more about nutrition and how to make changes in the Nutrition section of in MY CHOICES: A Planner of Healing. 

“No disease that can be treated by diet should be treated with any other means.”

— Maimonides

Learning new habits is never an easy feat. Michael Pollan, a respected journalist, writer and professor offers a simple and effective recommendation,

“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

Sounds easy enough, right? We put together a list of his 7 rules for eating well to help you create your new eating habits. Great for hanging on the fridge for a daily reminder.

Cancer Prevention Month

DID YOU KNOW?!

    • The liver is a complex organ that is involved in over 500 body functions!
    • A human body cannot survive more than 24 hours without a liver.
    • The liver helps detoxify blood, creating vital substances like proteins, and processing nearly every class of nutrient.

Your liver and cancer

Hepatitis C is the most common blood born viral infection in the US. An estimated 325 million people have viral hepatitis, globally. In left untreated, hepatitis C can cause cirrhosis and liver cancer.

There is a cure for hepatitis C, and it is detected by a simple blood test. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C.

 

Have you or someone you know been diagnosed with hepatitis C?

Conversations with health care professionals can be intimidating. Keeping track of what you need to ask and the answers to your questions can be overwhelming. Hep C Discussion Point was created to aid in this part of the process. This completely free and confidential tool is built for starting and continuing conversations about treating hepatitis C.

For additional information about promoting overall health, check out MY CHOICES: A Planner for Healing©

Get Tested. Get Cured

Hepatitis C, or hepatitis C virus (HCV) should not be a mystery. Hepatitis C is the most common, chronic blood-borne viral infection in the United States. Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. The liver acts as a filter for blood, processes nutrients and fights infections. It is an important organ to help your body maintain wellness. You can learn more about hepatitis C symptoms here.

To see if there has been been exposed to HCV, there is a simple blood test. There are many ways that one could have been exposed to HCV. Learn about hepatitis C transmission here.

Unlike many chronic viruses, hepatitis C is curable with antiviral treatment.

Challenge yourself in 2022 to know your HCV status.

Get Tested. Get Cured.

Talk to your doctor about hepatitis C. We understand that starting that conversation can be hard.

Click here to visit Hep C Discussion Point, a tool designed to help you choose topics to discuss with your health care team.

 

An update from the CDC….

Dear Colleagues,

 On November 19, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued final orders reclassifying two types of hepatitis C diagnostic tests from Class III to Class II, thereby allowing manufacturers to seek marketing clearance through the less burdensome premarket notification (510(k)) pathway, rather than submitting a premarket approval application (PMA), the most stringent type of FDA medical device review. The two types of hepatitis C virus (HCV) diagnostic tests now reclassified are (1) nucleic acid-based HCV ribonucleic acid devices intended for the qualitative or quantitative detection or genotyping of HCV RNA, and (2) certain HCV antibody devices intended for the qualitative detection of HCV antibodies.

Reclassifying these tests is groundbreaking for hepatitis C diagnostics as it may:

  • Expedite, and in some cases facilitate, bringing methodologies such as rapid nucleic acid tests and potentially antigen detection tests for diagnosis of current HCV infection to the U.S. market 
  • Facilitate development of innovative technologies for point-of-care viral detection assays for diagnosis of current HCV infection
  • Decrease cost, increase competition, and provide smaller companies an opportunity to develop new and improved assays which has the potential to decrease diagnostic device costs
  • Shorten the regulatory approval process time and, thus, decrease turn-around time

Discussions and recommendations regarding reclassification of diagnostic tests for HCV started in 2018 and involved many advisory committees and panels to assess the potential risks, safety, effectiveness, and benefits of the devices if cleared under the proposed Class II special controls. CDC appreciates the work of the FDA to facilitate improvements in HCV diagnostic testing and looks forward to continued work to address the threat of viral hepatitis in the United States. 

This work by the FDA coupled with CDC’s HCV screening recommendations sets the stage to increase hepatitis C testing and linkage to curative treatment, reducing further disease transmission, disease progression, and related deaths. 

More information on the reclassification of HCV diagnostic tests is available at: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-brief-fda-issues-final-orders-reclassifying-certain-hepatitis-c-diagnostic-tests-class-iii-class

Thank you,

/Carolyn Wester/

Carolyn Wester, MD

Director, Division of Viral Hepatitis

National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/

 

/Saleem Kamili/

Saleem Kamili, PhD

Chief, Laboratory Branch

Division of Viral Hepatitis

National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/

 

 /Jonathan Mermin/

Jonathan Mermin, MD, MPH

Rear Admiral and Assistant Surgeon General, USPHS

Director, National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

www.cdc.gov/nchhstp

Join the World Hepatitis Day Movement!

We can’t wait for the pandemic to end to get hepatitis elimination back on track!

Hepatitis Can't wait awareness poster

CDC Releases 2019 Hepatitis Numbers – We are on the wrong road to elimination!

Today, CDC published online the 2019 Viral Hepatitis Surveillance Report for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. This report now includes demographic characteristics of persons with chronic hepatitis B and chronic hepatitis C, including age, sex, race/ethnicity, urbanicity, and US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regions.

National Hepatitis Testing Day Proclamation

The White House

BRIEFING ROOM

 A Proclamation on National Hepatitis Testing Day, 2021

MAY 18, 2021   •    PRESIDENTIAL ACTIONS

Our efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year have reinforced many public health lessons, including the importance of communication, community engagement, and a comprehensive testing strategy to reduce the spread of infection. These same lessons hold true for another epidemic affecting our Nation: the silent epidemic of viral hepatitis. Viral hepatitis is a serious, preventable public health threat that puts people who are infected at increased risk for serious disease and death. When left undiagnosed and untreated, hepatitis B and hepatitis C can cause liver cirrhosis, liver cancer, and even early death. Hepatitis D, which occurs only among individuals infected with hepatitis B, can also cause serious liver disease.

On this National Hepatitis Testing Day, I call on all Americans who are at risk for hepatitis to get tested, and for all health care providers to educate their patients about viral hepatitis.

Our Nation has set a goal to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030. Thanks to Federal investment in medical research, we have the technology and tools to provide safe and effective hepatitis vaccines and therapeutics that can reduce mortality and even lead to a cure. Despite this progress, an estimated 2.4 million Americans are living with hepatitis C, and more than 860,000 are living with hepatitis B — many of whom unknowingly suffer its effects.

Approximately 200,000 Americans are infected with hepatitis D every year. Infection with hepatitis D in an individual already infected with hepatitis B — known as superinfection — leads to a more rapid progression towards liver cancer. We must increase prevention, testing, and awareness to provide people the life-saving treatment they need. Because of the Affordable Care Act, most health insurance plans must cover hepatitis B and hepatitis C testing with no cost-sharing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends screening and testing for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and hepatitis D based on risk, health status, and pregnancy. It is important we implement these recommendations to ensure proper treatment and help stop the spread of hepatitis. For more information on the recommendations, visit cdc.gov/hepatitis.

My Administration is committed to addressing the health disparities and health inequities, which, as with so many health metrics, are also seen with viral hepatitis. Viral hepatitis disproportionately impacts Black and brown Americans, Indigenous persons, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. The interplay of factors such as poverty, inadequate housing and transportation, food insecurity, access to care, access to addiction treatment and mental health care, medical mistrust, language and cultural barriers, stigma, and discrimination must be addressed if we are to eliminate these health disparities and advance health equity. The recently released Viral Hepatitis National Strategic Plan: A Roadmap to Elimination is focused on making sure more people living with viral hepatitis are tested and aware of their status and providing a roadmap for quality care and treatment. To read more about the plan, visit hhs.gov/hepatitis.

The viral hepatitis epidemic is also linked with other public health threats, including HIV, sexually transmitted infections, and opioid use. Our response to the public health challenges of viral hepatitis, HIV, sexually transmitted infections, and substance use disorders will require a focus on the people and places where these risk factors intersect, and doing more to test people for viral hepatitis and other infections. We also need to scale-up vaccinations, testing, and care in settings where people at risk receive other services. Implementing point-of-care testing in outreach settings, utilizing clinical decision support tools, and increasing provider awareness and training for implementing testing recommendations will help improve diagnoses and awareness. The ability to reduce viral hepatitis infections will depend on integrated strategies and a comprehensive approach to address our ongoing challenges.

Viral hepatitis exacts a significant toll on our Nation’s health, and the stigma and discrimination associated with the disease further impair the quality of life among those affected. Today, we reaffirm our commitment to ensuring everyone knows their viral hepatitis status, has access to high quality care and treatment, and lives free from stigma and discrimination.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 19, 2021, as National Hepatitis Testing Day. I encourage all Americans to join in activities that will increase awareness about viral hepatitis and increase viral hepatitis testing.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighteenth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-one, and of the Independence of the United States

of America the two hundred and forty-fifth.

 

JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/05/18/a-proclamation-on-national-hepatitis-testing-day-2021/