Saturday, June 6, 2015

Collaborative launches 'Step Up. Get Tested'

The Chicago HIV Testing Collaborative ( CHTC ) launched its fourth annual "Step Up. Get Tested. "( SUGT ) campaign June 5 at the State of Illinois James R. Thompson Center plaza. This year the campaign has partnered with Harmony Health Plan of Illinois, a subsidiary of WellCare Health Plans, Inc., on the monthlong initiative to get people tested at a variety of Chicagoland locations.

As a result of Harmony Health Plan's involvement, SUGT will include not only HIV testing but also testing for hepatitis C, diabetes and blood pressure. By offering to test for other things outside of HIV, SUGT is hoping that more people will decide to get tested.

"The SUGT Chicago HIV Testing Collaborative is elated to have Harmony as a partner," said Anne Carmack of The CORE Foundation, a 501c3 affiliate of the Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center, CHTC's fiscal agent. "This partnership has allowed CHTC to greatly expand its SUGT campaign components relative to past years."


Appalachia gripped by hepatitis C epidemic, bracing for HIV

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The Centers for Disease Control has spotted a disturbing trend in recent years where more young people in the Appalachian region are contracting hepatitis C.

A recent study looked at Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee, and found correlation between more people injecting prescription painkillers and getting the virus.

Hepatitis causes liver problems. Doctors say it can lead to liver cancer or even death.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Hedge Fund Billionaires Are New Target for Hepatitis C Cure Protests

The New York City home and offices of former hedge fund manager Julian H. Robertson were targeted by protest groups in a series of simultaneous direct actions in early May. Robertson is ranked No. 512 on Forbes' list of "the world's billionaires" with a reported net worth of $3.4 billion. "Robertson is making a killing off of people with Hep C," read one sign.

The protests targeted high profile hedge fund investors who have reaped substantial profits from the California-based pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences. Hedge Clippers, a coalition of labor, community and social justice groups including VOCAL-NY, seeks to draw links between hedge funds and income inequality, mass imprisonment, climate change, health disparities, and other challenges. Gilead has been targeted because of what has been called "exorbitant" pricing for its groundbreaking new class of drugs that can cure hepatitis C virus (HCV), such as Sovaldi, and the enormous profits they have generated.

HCV infection "is the most common chronic blood borne infection in the United States [and] approximately 3.2 million persons are chronically infected," according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). About 150 million people around the globe are living with HCV -- disproportionately the poor, uninsured and incarcerated -- which in its advanced stages can cause cirrhosis or liver cancer.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Hepatitis C in Claiborne Jail: Sheriff warns of worrisome inmate test results

Last week, Claiborne Sheriff David Ray publicly announced recent inmate test results conducted by the Tennessee Department of Health.

Ray spent more than a few minutes discussing worrisome hepatitis C tests during the regular monthly meeting of the Claiborne Correctional Partnership Act Committee, commonly referred to as the jail committee.

He prefaced the subject by saying he felt the jail committee had “a right to know.” Ray said the free testing, conducted a day before the committee meeting, netted 34 positives from the 37 inmates administered the test.

Pa. law prohibits needle exchanges that can save lives

Tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians crave daily injections of heroin. Beyond the threat of overdose is the threat of being exposed to HIV and hepatitis C, both deadly and expensive illnesses that are easily spread through contaminated needles.

But in Pennsylvania, distributing sterile syringes is a criminal act.

For years, Dianna Pagan feared that giving out clean syringes in Reading would land her in jail. Officials there recently agreed to let her needle exchange operate, though she’s faced numerous setbacks for more than a decade, including being shut down following the threat of prosecution.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Southern Illinois sees shocking rise of Hepatitis C

Cases of Hepatitis C -- a blood borne virus that attacks the liver and is spread via shared drug needles, unsterile tattoos and other means -- are on the rise. It's a "silent epidemic" waiting to strike many unsuspecting Baby Boomers and young adults, health officials warn, because the liver has a long memory. Even if you have forgotten what you did this past weekend, or in the freewheeling 1970s, your liver did not.

Hoping to stem the tide of premature deaths from liver-related complications, lawmakers narrowly passed a bill in recent days that would require doctors to offer screening tests for patients considered high-risk for Hepatitis C.

It is curable in most cases, but left undetected can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and death.


Merck Drug Seeks FDA Approval for 3 Hepatitis C Genotypes

Merck is seeking FDA approval for its once-daily, single-tablet grazoprevir/elbasvir combination for the treatment of adult patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotypes 1, 4, or 6 infection.

Grazoprevir 100 mg/elbasvir 50 mg previously received Breakthrough Therapy designation from the FDA for the treatment of patients with chronic HCV genotype 1 with end-stage renal disease on hemodialysis, as well as patients infected with chronic HCV genotype 4.

Merck’s submission for the drug’s FDA approval is partially based on positive data from the C-EDGE trial program, as well as the C-SURFER and C-SALVAGE trials, which evaluated the investigational combination with or without ribavirin in chronic HCV patients.


Monday, June 1, 2015

Hepatitis virus variations responsible for variations in liver cancer

CHICAGO, IL—Significant clinical variations exist among patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common type of liver cancer. These variations depend on the viral cause of the disease, which can be hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV). These differences suggest that hepatitis status should be considered when developing treatment plans for patients with newly diagnosed HCC. These findings were presented at the 2015 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting.

 “Currently, a patient's form of hepatitis is not a factor in treatment planning, but the two types of the virus result in different disease impacts and some variations in outcomes,” said principal investigator, Ahmed Kaseb, MD, associate professor, Gastrointestinal (GI) Medical Oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

“Most likely, this is related to the difference in how hepatitis leads to cancer development, in addition to the differences in the natural history of both hepatitis forms. This might be the result of treating technically different diseases the same way. This study provides more evidence that future clinical trials should stratify patients by hepatitis type to help identify better drugs and create personalized treatment modalities.”