Online Program

Chronic Hepatitis C Infection: Emerging Policy Considerations for Prevention and Treatment

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Michaelle Marie Astride Charles, Departments of Biology and Psychology, Marymount University, Arlington, VA
The use of injection drugs in the United States is a major contributor to rising rates of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. While highly effective cures are now available, prevention remains a critical strategy to manage this public health issue.

Chronic HCV infection affects an estimated 3-5 million persons in the United States. It is associated with severe morbidity and mortality. Injection drug use is an important route of transmission for HCV in the US followed by blood transfusions (prior to routine screening of blood donations) and dialysis. HCV progressively destroys the liver; however it is asymptomatic and often goes undiagnosed until significant damage has been caused. Since there is no vaccine for HCV, prevention strategies are necessary. Recently approved therapies have shown to cure approximately 90% of those treated. While the potential for curing most individuals with HCV now exists, the resurgence of heroin use is likely to threaten existing prevention efforts and present difficult policy decisions for public and private initiatives.

Lessons Learned
Chronic HCV disproportionately impacts incarcerated men, military veterans, and immigrants.  With the reemergence of heroin use, needle exchange programs may have value in preventing HCV transmission. Broad access to curative HCV drugs is stalled by the high cost of treatment in a time of constrained health care resources.

Policies and efforts for preventing transmission of blood-borne diseases should be reexamined, strengthened, and targeted to at-risk populations.  Public and private policies should be developed for ensuring broad access to curative drugs.

Learning Areas:

Chronic disease management and prevention
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe the role of injection drug use on the current HCV epidemic Identify populations disproportionately affected by HCV Identify existing HCV prevention practices and new treatment options Describe opportunities to expand and improve HCV prevention efforts and access to treatment

Keyword(s): Hepatitis C, Prevention

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to be an abstract author on the content I am responsible for because I have conducted this research as part of my undergraduate degree requirements. My interests include social perceptions of autism, and public health approaches in underserved communities and nations.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.