In observation of Hepatitis Awareness Month, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) joined CDC in urging people to protect themselves against the silent epidemic of viral hepatitis. People can receive immunization to protect against hepatitis A virus (HAV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV). MDCH recommends that people at risk for hepatitis visit their doctors. Early detection and treatment can prevent the disease from damaging the liver, which may result in cirrhosis or liver cancer. Viral hepatitis causes 15,000 US deaths each year.
More than 4 million US residents may have chronic hepatitis, yet not know it because hepatitis may never show symptoms. In 2012, CDC recommended that Americans born between the years 1945 and 1965 have a one-time blood test for hepatitis C virus (HCV); incidence of HCV is five times higher among baby boomers. To increase HCV awareness and to reduce the consequences of chronic HCV, CDC launched the Know More Hepatitis initiative, which encourages people to get tested. CDC also developed an online Hepatitis Risk Assessment tool that allows people to enter information online privately and receive CDC’s recommendation for testing or vaccination.
HAV transmission takes place via consuming infected food or water or close contact with an HAV-infected person. HBV spreads through contact with blood or body fluids, unprotected sex, or mother-to-child transmission at birth. HCV spreads through contact with blood or sharing syringes. People who are unaware they have the virus may spread the virus to others.
Individuals may access the Hepatitis Risk Assessment tool at http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/riskassessment/.
Learn more about CDC’s Know More Hepatitis initiative at http://www.cdc.gov/KnowMoreHepatitis/.
South Wales Central Assembly Member Eluned Parrott reported that a new prescription distribution designed to reduce medicine waste “severely” compromises the lives of HIV-infected people. The new system requires HIV patients in Cardiff and Vale to go to a hospital pharmacy during working hours to pick up antiretroviral medicines every 28 days. According to Parrott, other health boards allow patients to get enough medications for six months to a year. Health Minister Mark Drakeford stated that the 28-day system aimed to reduce “a substantial risk of waste” associated with longer prescriptions.
HIV-infected people are under no obligation to disclose their illness, but taking regular time off to pick up medicines could cause problems due to ongoing stigma and discrimination against people with HIV. To preserve anonymity, one Cardiff patient has opted to travel 300 miles round-trip to pick up his medicine in London. Stable HIV-infected patients see their consulting physician only twice a year and do not need a monthly consultation for medications, according to the Cardiff patient.
The All-Wales Medicines Strategy Group recommended the 28-day system, but urged “discretion” for some medicines and individuals. Darrell Baker, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board’s service director for pharmacy and medicines management, stated that the board was working with patients to find alternative delivery methods, including sending medications to a home or work address, a “local sorting office,” post office, or other prearranged address. He added that the board would consider providing medications for longer periods of time.
Researchers found a higher prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection among Asian-Americans compared to the non-Asians attending a free community clinic. Mindie Nguyen, MD, associate professor of medicine at Stanford University, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study to determine whether Asian-Americans have a higher HCV prevalence similar to that in their countries of origin.
The researchers studied patients seen from July 2011 to October 2012 at a free community primary care clinic that recommended HCV screening for all patients seeking routine treatment. The researchers reviewed patients’ medical records for clinical and risk factor data. The clinic screened 436 of 691 consecutive patients for HCV with antibody testing. Of these, 14 tested positive; 11 of the 14 were Asians. This resulted in an HCV prevalence of 4.5 percent for Asians compared with a prevalence of 1.6 percent for non-Asians. Two of the three non-Asians with HCV had a history of illicit drug use. Among the Asians, one had a history of illicit drug use, one had a history of blood transfusion, and four patients had unknown risk factors. The other five Asians had a history of prior surgery and uncertain risk factors. Also, most of the Asians with HCV were foreign-born.
The researchers concluded that HCV prevalence among the Asian-Americans was similar to the reported prevalence in many Asian countries. Nguyen suggested that, given the high prevalence, foreign-born Asians coming from endemic areas of Asia should receive HCV screening similar to the screening for hepatitis B virus (HBV) that CDC currently recommends for people coming from areas with HBV prevalence of 2 percent or higher.
The full report, “High Prevalence of Hepatitis C Virus Infection (HCV) in Asian Americans in a Community Primary Care Clinic,” was presented at Digestive Disease Week, May 18–21, 2013, in Orlando, Florida.
2Cents Theatre Group will donate a portion of proceeds from its production of the play “Rent” to benefit four distinct HIV/AIDS research and support organizations. Kristen Boulé will direct and Morgan Fitch will provide the musical direction for “Rent,” which opens on May 24. Beginning on May 30, the group will donate a percentage of each weekend's gross sales to one of the four organizations.
Proceeds from the play’s May 30–June 2 weekend will benefit the AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA). APLA works to improve the lives of people affected by HIV, advocate for fair and effective HIV-related public policy, and reduce the incidence of HIV infection. For more information, visit www.apla.org.
The group will donate proceeds from its June 13–16 weekend performances to the AIDS Research Alliance. The alliance focuses on developing a cure for HIV/AIDS, medical strategies to prevent new infections, and better treatments for HIV-infected people.
Being Alive will receive a percentage of the receipts from the group’s June 20–23 performances. This peer-driven agency for people with HIV/AIDS specializes in education, supportive services, self-empowerment, and wellness.
Alliance for Housing and Healing, the fourth recipient organization, will receive proceeds from the June 27–30 performances. The alliance provides basic life necessities for HIV-infected men, women, children, and families. Alliance for Housing and Healing offers a safety net of direct supportive services and essential housing.
“Rent” opens on Friday, May 24, at 8:00 p.m., with a red carpet gala beginning at 6:30 p.m. The play will run Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 7:00 p.m. through June 30. The general admission tickets for “Rent” will be $34, with student and senior tickets with valid IDs available for $25. For online ticket purchase, visit www.plays411.com/rent or call (323) 960–4410. The Hudson Theatre is located at 6539 Santa Monica Boulevard, on Theatre Row in Hollywood, Calif., 90038. Parking is available for $5.00 across from the theatre on Hudson Avenue.
The HIV/AIDS Network of Southwest Florida intervention committee recently sponsored a Gospel Explosion Block Party at the Sarasota Housing Authority Gore Court Apartments. Area churches, support organizations, and health services groups attended to promote HIV/AIDS awareness. Participants could receive free testing for blood pressure, glucose, AIDS, and STDs, and motivational speakers and local musicians provided information and entertainment. Organizations present included Men Educating Men, Multicultural Health Institute, Genesis Health Services, Community AIDS Network, Faces of HIV/AIDS, and Sarasota County’s health department.
The Old Brewery Mission in Montreal, Canada, has unveiled a new facility known as Pause Sante, which will provide 14 of the city’s homeless with a unique place to stay while they undergo year-long hepatitis C treatment. Healthcare authorities familiar with the challenges of curing hepatitis C welcome the initiative, the first of its kind in Canada. Treatment is approximately 70 percent successful; however, according to Old Brewery Mission Director Matthew Pierce, it is very debilitating and cannot be done on the streets. The treatment option offers hope to individuals whose health is often otherwise overlooked.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) has ordered the Tri-County Spinal Care Center in North Charleston to stop all invasive procedures while the department investigates how three of the center’s patients contracted acute hepatitis B. All three patients received injections at the center on February 7 and 21; SCDHEC has begun notifying a total of 23 other patients who received injections on those dates. The center is asking at-risk patients to go to Northwoods Health Clinic for hepatitis B, C, and HIV screenings.
According to a new World Health Organization (WHO) report, Switzerland reported fewer TB cases per year compared to the European average. Seven out of 100,000 people suffered from the illness in Switzerland compared to the European average of 15.7 per 100,000. Also, multidrug-resistant TB is less prevalent in Switzerland than elsewhere. However, the WHO report noted that TB remains a problem in Switzerland, because infrequent cases and costly treatment result in fewer doctors being trained to treat TB.
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