Online Program

Hepatitis C virus in African American communities: Opportunities and strategies to increase engagement to reduce disparities

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 1:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Sonsiere Cobb-Souza, Office of Minority Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Rockville, MD
In the US, as many as 3.9 million people are estimated to be living with chronic hepatitis C (HCV) and over half of these individuals are unaware of their infection. Hepatitis C disproportionately impacts African-Americans who are twice as likely to be infected compared with non-Hispanic Whites. Approximately 75% of all people living with chronic hepatitis C were born between 1945 and 1965 (baby boomers) and among African-American baby boomers, 1 in 13 is chronically infected with HCV.   Additionally, research has shown that African Americans are more likely to be diagnosed later, reflecting missed opportunities for prevention. 

In 2013, the rate of hepatitis C-related deaths among African Americans was nearly double that of Whites.  Furthermore, chronic liver disease, often attributable to untreated hepatitis C infection, is a leading cause of death among African-American baby boomers. Until the recent development of groundbreaking, all-oral, curative therapies, African-Americans were significantly less likely to be cured of HCV. Taken together, these facts point to the need to address the high morbidity and mortality of chronic HCV among African Americans by promoting awareness, increasing screening and diagnosis, and ensuring linkage to care so that individuals have the opportunity to take steps to stay healthy, including access to curative treatments.

Building on efforts to achieve the goals of the national Action Plan for the Prevention, Care, & Treatment of Viral Hepatitis, the HHS Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy and the Office of Minority Health convened a 2-day stakeholder consultation with African American leaders to identify strategies to improve hepatitis C outcomes in the African-American community.

Several opportunities to increase and improve hepatitis C health outcomes in African-American communities were identified, including:

  • Expanding surveillance and research efforts on HCV in African Americans.

  • Increasing awareness of the prevalence and clinical burden of chronic hepatitis C infection.

  • Educating patients and providers about preventive services available without cost-sharing under the Affordable Care Act, and how these opportunities can reduce barriers to diagnosis and treatment of HCV.

  • Sharing personal experiences of individual African Americans who have chronic HCV to increase awareness and reduce stigma.

  • Replicating successful community-based hepatitis C activities.

  • Leveraging existing partnerships to amplify messages about chronic HCV.

This presentation will review and highlight ways in which partnerships and key strategic actions among Federal and non-Federal stakeholders can be instrumental in combating hepatitis C in the African-American community.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Describe the impact of hepatitis C-related health disparities among African Americans. Identify opportunities to enhance public health and community health activities to reduce the burden of chronic hepatitis C in African Americans.

Keyword(s): Hepatitis C, Minority Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the Director, Division of Program Operations, Office of Minority Health, Department of Health and Human Services responsible for the development and implementation of public health programs to reduce health disparities, improve quality of care and increase the diversity of the health-related workforce, and policy demonstrations that target disenfranchised populations. Among my program/policy interests has been the development of strategies for preventing HIV and reducing hepatitis C-related health disparities among African Americans.
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.