Viral Hepatitis Elimination Planning Meetings

By Jasmine West June 19, 2019

Hepatitis Awareness Month Brings Opportunity to Convene

Statewide Elimination Planning Efforts

Movement towards hepatitis elimination planning is picking up around the globe. The World Health Organization (WHO) has committed to eliminating hepatitis B and C by 2030. The National Academics of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) provided recommendations and targets for elimination and HHS OHADIP is working to update the National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan to align with domestic elimination efforts. State and local jurisdictions are bringing together partners to start the conversation about what it would take in their communities to make elimination a reality. From governors’ offices to secretaries of health, highest leaders in state government are taking on the charge to eliminate hepatitis. 

This Hepatitis Awareness Month, two states hosted viral hepatitis elimination planning meetings. The first convened in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on May 1 with over 100 stakeholders from across the state to learn from the experience of local, state, and federal partners, to share elimination strategies, and identify next steps for eliminating hepatitis in Pennsylvania. 

Similarly, Louisiana Department of Health hosted their hepatitis elimination planning meeting on May 16, attended by national and local leaders in hepatitis care and research. Participants discussed approaches to screening for and treating chronic HCV infection to inform the state’s HCV elimination plan. 

As your state or local jurisdiction is either considering starting the process or well underway in the release or implementation of your elimination plan, we encourage you to read these summaries and feel inspired and motivated to continue working closely with your partners at the state and national level on your path towards elimination. As HepCAP stated, “we came away from the meeting recommitted and inspired…with the conviction that eliminating viral hepatitis in Pennsylvania IS possible…” Take a read and reach out to hepatitis@nastad.org if you have any questions or would like support in your elimination planning work. 

2019 Pennsylvania Viral Hepatitis Elimination Planning Meeting

The Pennsylvania Department of Health hosted the 2019 PA Viral Hepatitis Elimination Planning Stakeholder meeting on May 1, 2019 in Harrisburg, PA. The purpose of the event was to convene stakeholders from across the state to learn from the experience of local, state and federal partners with regard to elimination strategies and garner support for viral hepatitis elimination planning. During the one-day summit, stakeholders were also afforded the opportunity to network and learn from the elimination campaign experience of other jurisdiction representatives who attended the meeting. The event was attended by over 100 stakeholders including academic researchers, addiction specialists, clinicians, corrections health officers, community health workers, harm reduction advocates, health department employees, hepatitis B and C patients, industry representatives and PA Legislator staffers.  

Following this meeting, the PA Department of Health began accepting applications to serve on the PA Viral Hepatitis Elimination Planning Committee. This Planning Committee will provide direction for the establishment of a statewide viral hepatitis elimination coalition and ultimately a viral hepatitis elimination campaign. Specifically, this committee, in coordination with the PA Department of Health, will be tasked with identifying priority components of a viral hepatitis elimination campaign strategic plan. The PA Department of Health is seeking 10 to 15 committee members to serve a 2-year term beginning September 2019. We are seeking committee members with expertise in community outreach and advocacy, clinical management, academic research, government affairs, public policy and personal experience with viral hepatitis B and/or C. We are planning to convene this group in October 2019 for a half-day meeting in Harrisburg.  

Pennsylvania was also funded by ASTHO to pursue an elimination strategy demonstration project. We proposed an assessment of hepatitis C-related services that are offered at PA drug and alcohol facilities.  Through this assessment we will identify potential barriers to the offering of these services as well as other infectious disease-related services such as screenings, the offering of PrEP, and vaccinations. The survey results will be shared with all drug and alcohol facilities as well as with stakeholders whom we will convene in Fall 2019 to discuss potential policy solutions to the barriers identified.

Left to right: Boatemaa Ntiri-Reid (NASTAD), Devin Reaves (PA Harm Reduction Coalition),Lauren Canary (CDC)

2019 Louisiana Viral Hepatitis Elimination Planning Meeting

On May 16, 2019, the Louisiana Department of Health convened national and local leaders in hepatitis care and research for the Louisiana Hepatitis C Testing and Treatment Protocol – National Panel. Participants were invited to discuss streamlined approaches to screening for and treating chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in vulnerable populations with unrestricted access to curative drugs, to inform the state’s HCV elimination plan. During the event, special remarks were provided by Dr. Rebekah Gee, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health, who isleading the state’s HCV elimination efforts. The event highlighted best practices in HCV screening and treatment, provider training, and post-treatment care, as well as collective approaches to HCV elimination and exploration of anticipated challenges in implementing a population-level subscription treatment model.  

Louisiana has set a goal to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health threat by 2024 and plans to treat over 10,000 people by 2020—with a focus on individuals who receive Medicaid and incarcerated individuals. As a key strategy, Louisiana pursued an innovative subscription model to create a public/private partnership with an HCV direct acting antiviral drug manufacturer. The resulting partnership with Aseuga Therapeutics LLC, a subsidiary of Gilead Sciences, will provide unrestricted access to life-saving hepatitis C treatment over a five-year period. In the coming months, the Louisiana Department of Health will partner with NASTAD and ASTHO to synthesize and distill outcomes from the panel through the publication of a white paper.  

Pictured: Participants from Louisiana’s Hepatitis C Testing and Treatment Protocol – National Panel, May 16, 2019.

Thank you for all the work you are doing to end the hepatitis epidemics! NASTAD will continue to follow state and local elimination planning initiatives and share updates and successful strategies to help inform your work. If you have any questions, please reach out to hepatitis@nastad.org