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New Hepatitis Action Plan Hopes to Increase Effectiveness of Viral Prevention, Care, and Treatment

April 4, 2014

This article was reported by Medical Daily.

Medical Daily reported that the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, and Veteran's Affairs have updated the Action Plan for the Prevention, Care and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis. Chronic viral hepatitis B (HBV) and C (HCV) affected between 3.5 and 5.3 million Americans and was the leading cause of liver cancer and the primary reason for liver transplantation. Viral hepatitis also was the leading cause of infectious death in the United States. Many people were unaware of their hepatitis infection and remained undiagnosed.

AIDS.gov summarized 10 Action Plan accomplishments that were contributing to prevention, detection, treatment, and saving lives. The plan established National Hepatitis Testing Day on May 19th each year. President Obama supported the global observance of World Hepatitis Day for the last three years. CDC recommended that all baby boomers -- people born between 1945 and 1965 -- have hepatitis C testing. The hepatitis awareness campaign was available in more languages and emphasized high-risk target audiences such as injecting drug users (IDUs). Recent data indicated 64 percent of IDUs had HCV and between 2.7-11 percent had HBV.

The updated plan removed restrictions on hepatitis-infected health care professionals and students. The plan also recommended that all newborns receive HBV vaccine. Newly approved, simpler HCV treatments required shorter treatment with fewer side effects. The Affordable Care Act extended HCV coverage to more people, increased hepatitis vaccination in pregnant women and invested in HHS community health center programs.

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