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U.S. News

A New Wave of Hepatitis C

May 20, 2011

On May 12, the US Department of Health and Human Services launched an action plan to prevent and treat viral hepatitis, calling it "a silent epidemic." Some 3.5 million to 5.3 million Americans have viral hepatitis of some form, including up to 3.9 million with hepatitis C, and two-thirds of those infected are not aware of it, according to HHS.

"These infections have fueled a tragic cascade of human suffering," said Howard K. Koh, MD, MPH, assistant secretary for health for HHS. "The new HHS action plan on viral hepatitis represents an unprecedented call to action for better education, treatment, and prevention."

The Viral Hepatitis Action Plan seeks to boost the proportion of persons who are aware of their infection from 33 percent to 66 percent for hepatitis B virus and from 45 percent to 66 percent for hepatitis C virus. It also looks to reduce new HCV infections by 25 percent by 2020 and to eliminate mother-to-child HBV transmission.

Overall goals include raising awareness about viral hepatitis; expanding training to help health professionals diagnose, treat, and vaccinate people against viral hepatitis; and working within the health reform law to improve coverage of comprehensive prevention and treatment services.

Diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis C should be standard in drug treatment programs and correctional facilities, the plan says. It also recognizes the need for access to sterile syringe access programs and community health resources to help reduce stigma for patients infected by injection drug use.

"No one government agency can fight viral hepatitis alone, and here at CDC, we believe this action plan will not only strengthen the work we've been doing, but help all of us across the government collaborate to take our nation's prevention efforts to the next level," said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH.

For more information about the plan, visit:

Back to other news for May 2011

Adapted from:
Boston Globe
05.16.2011; Chelsea Conaboy

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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