Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01



Experts: Fight Hepatitis C epidemic with more testing, caps for co-pays
From a press release

This article shared 3406 times since Thu Jun 4, 2015
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

WASHINGTON, D.C. ( June 4, 2015 ) — With mounting evidence that many public and private health plans are deliberately rationing care for Americans with the hepatitis C virus ( HCV ), those on the front lines in fighting viral hepatitis and HIV/AIDS today urged lawmakers to overturn state Medicaid and managed care policies that discourage testing, add prior authorization requirements on clinicians, and create significant hurdles for patients to receive new curative treatments — all contributing to only 5% to 6% of individuals with HCV being successfully treated.

Assembling in Washington for the 2015 National Summit on HCV and HIV Diagnosis, Prevention and Access to Care,HCV and HIV specialists called on policymakers to pass state laws mandating that insurance plans follow evidence-based medical guidelines when covering HCV testing and treatment. These guidelines — published jointly by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases ( AASLD ) and the Infectious Diseases Society of America ( IDSA ) and also by the Department of Veterans Affairs — support treatment in all HCV-infected people except those with a life expectancy of less than a year due to non-liver medical conditions. Moreover, the advocates urged states to enact laws requiring Medicaid programs to offer first-line HIV medications and new HCV drugs on their formularies and to cap the co-payments for these therapies, ending system-wide practices by both public and private insurers that restrict access to these drugs.

These actions are necessary now that a just-issued review of ten state Medicaid programs from the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School documents system-wide insurance restrictions that keep the majority of HCV-infected individuals from being treated with new and more expensive oral HCV drugs. While the practices vary from state to state, and even among different plans in the state, they are designed to be exclusionary by only allowing patients with advanced liver disease to receive the new drugs, authorizing only a small number of medical specialists to prescribe the drugs, excluding alcohol- and substance-using individuals, and restricting access based on HIV co-infection. These exclusionary practices also apply to a number of private health plans, resulting in a series of lawsuits in California.

"These developments represent a wake-up call for the viral hepatitis community and should spark a national movement to ensure all Americans diagnosed with HCV are treated for their infection — curing them of HCV— which will profoundly reduce the spread of the virus," said Veronica Miller, PhD, Executive Director of the Forum for Collaborative HIV Research, which convened the summit. "While the cost of new therapies is a legitimate topic, without testing and treatment there will be little hope of reducing the burden of HCV and bending the cost curve."

Action Needed As HCV Rates Rise Dramatically

Mobilizing the public health community around expanded access to HCV testing and treatment is especially warranted now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ) is grappling with twin epidemics in the U.S. — one affecting an estimated 2.7 million Americans, mostly baby boomers ( born from 1945-1965 ) who are living with chronic HCV, and a separate explosion of acute HCV primarily occurring east of the Mississippi River in young adults who inject drugs.

In the case of chronic HCV, disturbing new data reveal that among the baby boomers tested between 2010 and 2013 and found to have HCV, half of those infected already had severe liver damage at diagnosis. Also of concern, just- released findings from a large study of HCV patients who were prescribed the new HCV drug sofosbuvir cited insurance barriers and cost concerns as the reason 81% of the patients did not start the therapy. Taken together, these findings underscore the need for coverage policies that increase screening efforts and ensure that infected Americans are treated effectively to prevent cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma ( HCC ), the most common type of liver cancer. Estimates for treating advanced liver disease in the HCV population run as high as $9 billion annually.

With acute HCV, the challenge is responding to a very different epidemic fueled by prescription-drug abuse among those who inject drugs. According to John Ward, MD, Director of CDC's Division of Viral Hepatitis, CDC has been concerned for several years about the rising number of new cases of acute hepatitis C virus from an increasing number of states. The CDC has tracked the spread of acute HCV infections across the nation since it was first reported in 2009 in Massachusetts, with the largest increases among people under age 30 living in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. According to new CDC data, infections rose 364% from 2006 to 2012 in these four states alone.

"It is a sad fact that both public and private insurers are responding to these twin epidemics by restricting access to new HCV drugs that have been found to produce high cure rates, sometimes exceeding 90%, within 12 weeks of treatment," said infectious disease expert John G. Bartlett, MD, Professor Emeritus of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "We urgently need coverage policies that are intended to stem the tide of HCV and reduce its societal burden."

Coming to Grips With the Unequal Burden of HIV

While reducing the access barriers to effective HCV detection and treatment is a priority concern, the Summit will also focus on the challenges of testing and getting timely treatment for those most affected by HIV — especially now that new data from the NIH-sponsored study Strategic Timing of Antiretroviral Treatment ( START ) confirms the substantial advantages of universal testing, linkage to care and immediate/early HIV treatment — starting right after diagnosis — both to improve medical outcomes and to prevent the spread of HIV.

Describing HIV/AIDS as a disease of racial and ethnic health inequalities exacerbated by discrimination, poverty and homophobia, Kenneth H. Mayer, MD, Director of HIV Prevention at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and the Medical Research Director of The Fenway Institute in Boston, said the epidemic has changed. Today, HIV disproportionately affects men who have sex with men ( MSM ), minorities, transgender people, and the poor and is concentrated in poor and disenfranchised areas of large cities with populations of more than 500,000 people. The cities hardest hit by HIV areAtlanta, Ga.; Miami, Fla.; Washington, D.C.; Baton Rouge and New Orleans, La.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Baltimore, M.D.

Among the populations hardest hit are African Americans, who now account for almost half of new infections ( 44% ) and represent 41% of those living with HIV. Latinos are also disproportionately affected, accounting for 21% of all new HIV infections and 20% of people living with HIV. At the same time, infection rates are rising among MSM of all races but especially in young black MSM ( aged 13-24 ) who now account for more new infections than any other subgroup by race/ethnicity, age, and sex. In 2010, young black MSM accounted for 45% of new HIV infections among other black MSM and 55% of new HIV infections among young MSM overall. In addition, two highly stigmatized populations — transgender women and injection drug users — are at high risk for HIV. According to CDC data, 28% of transgender women tested HIV positive in 2008, whereas injection drug users now represent 8% of new HIV infections each year and 16% of the U.S. population living with HIV.

Confronted with these changing demographics, the public health community is stepping up efforts to diagnose HIV infection early and then link infected individuals to care — meaning these people enter the health system in a timely fashion and then are retained in care so they receive medical treatment and are prescribed antiretroviral therapy ( ART ). In some aspects, these efforts have been successful: today, 86% of infected individuals know their status and 80% were initially linked to care.

However, 60% of Americans with HIV are not receiving regular HIV care, according to the latest CDC data. As a result, only three in ten people living with HIV had their virus under control in 2011 — translating into 840,000 people living with actively replicating HIV. Further defining the problem, 2014 data reveal that 20% of people whose virus is not under control still don't know they are infected and 66% are not engaged in regular HIV care.

"What we are finding is that even when disenfranchised and socially marginalized individuals are diagnosed with HIV, they fall through the cracks in the healthcare system," said Dr. Mayer. "If we are to reverse the tide of the HIV epidemic, we must focus on the root causes of HIV disparities in at-risk communities, including stigma, poverty, STI prevalence, incarceration, and limited social mobility."

About the 2015 National Summit on HCV and HIV Diagnosis, Prevention and Access to Care

The 2015 National Summit on HCV and HIV Diagnosis, Prevention and Access to Care ( June 4-6, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City Hotel in Arlington, Va. ) will bring together an estimated 300 scientists, clinicians, public health leaders and advocates to address the persistent barriers that keep too many Americans from getting tested for HIV and HCV, linked to care and able to benefit from the newest therapies, despite the intent of the Affordable Care Act. The National Summit is hosted by the Washington, D.C.-based Forum for Collaborative HIV Research and is an IAS 2015 Independent Affiliated Event.

About the Forum for Collaborative HIV Research

Founded in 1997 and now part of the University of California ( UC ), Berkeley School of Public Health, the Forum is a public/private partnership representing government, industry, patient advocates, healthcare providers, foundations and academia working to advance scientific advances in five disease areas: HIV, HCV, hepatitis B virus ( HBV ), Cytomegalovirus ( CMV ) and transplantation, and liver diseases. In addition to hosting the National Summit, the Forumorganizes roundtables and issues reports on a range of issues, including treatment-related toxicities, immune-based therapies, health services research, co-infections, prevention, and the transference of research results into care. More information is available at: .

This article shared 3406 times since Thu Jun 4, 2015
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


Gay News

Ald. Maria Hadden encourages community to be active participants 2021-10-18
By Cris Villalonga-Vivoni - AIt was Chicago Ald. Maria Hadden's friends who convinced her to run for city council as the 49th Ward's alderperson. Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Hadden moved to Rogers Park 20 years ago after graduating from The ...

Gay News

Colorado becomes first state to require trans care as essential health benefit 2021-10-17
- Colorado has become the first state in the country to include transition-related care for transgender people as part of the requirements for essential healthcare in the state, The Washington Blade reported. As part of the change, ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Foster-parent case, stars speak out, Texas youth, 'Queer Eye,' HIV 2021-10-17
- Americans United for Separation of Church and State and Lambda Legal, together with the law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), along ...

Gay News

Black Incubator and Accelerator (BIA) program to offer support for Black-led organizations 2021-10-12
- A new program—Black Incubator and Accelerator (BIA)—is offering funding and resources to Black-led organizations that primarily serve Black communities on the South and West Sides. BIA is new this year and run by University of Chicago ...

Gay News

Howard Brown's 'Big Orange Ball' on Oct. 23 2021-10-09
- Howard Brown Health will hold its annual Big Orange Ball virtually Saturday, Oct. 23, 8-9 p.m. The event will then be shown On-Demand through Sunday, Oct. 31, at midnight. This year, people can kick off Halloween ...

Gay News

HHS awards $2.21B in FY2021 for HIV care, support services, medication 2021-10-05
--From a press release - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced approximately $2.21 billion in Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program funding for cities, counties, states, and local community-based organizations in fiscal year ...

Gay News

PHIMC to present second Mary F. Morten Award on Nov. 7 2021-10-06
- Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago (PHIMC) announced Chicago Freedom School as the 2021 recipient of the Mary F. Morten Award for Justice. According to a release, "Chicago Freedom School is being recognized for its vital ...

Gay News

AMA panel examines the role of critical race theory in contemporary healthcare 2021-10-05
- An Oct. 4 online forum hosted by the Chicago-based American Medical Association (AMA) addressed critical race theory (CRT) and its applications for equity in healthcare settings. CRT has achieved notoriety ...

Gay News

Illinois HIV Care Connect launches HIV Innovation campaign 2021-10-05
- On Oct. 5, Illinois HIV Care Connect launched its HIV Innovation web and social-media campaign, showcasing several Illinois HIV initiatives that are helping to prevent or treat HIV more effectively. Articles about five initiatives so far ...

Gay News

COVID Connecticut removed from Chicago travel advisory 2021-10-05
- On Oct. 5, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) removed one state—Connecticut—from its weekly COVID-19 travel advisory. The advisory now stands at 47 states and three territories. Although the ...

Gay News

Report: Older LGBTQs lack access to healthcare, financial security, caregiving 2021-10-05
--From a press release - Chicago — LGBTQ older adults across Illinois are struggling to get the healthcare, financial security and caregiving support they desperately need, according to a new report from AARP Illinois and SAGE released today. The disparities, outlined ...

Gay News

Out state Sen. Mike Simmons aims to 'prioritize people' in economic, healthcare equity fight 2021-10-04
- Each week, Illinois state Sen. Mike Simmons' constituents pile into his office to share ideas about how to improve their lives. Through conversations with single mothers raising young children in poverty, residents facing displacement and teenagers ...

Gay News

Howard Brown Health to receive $1M from Col. Jennifer Pritzker's TAWANI Foundation 2021-09-28
--From a press release - (Sept. 28, 2021 - Chicago, IL) Howard Brown Health has received a commitment of $1 million from TAWANI Foundation, including a pledge of $500,000 and a challenge grant of $500,000 to support the expansion of LGBTQ+ ...

Gay News

COVID Chicago's latest travel advisory remains the same 2021-09-28
- The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) did not add or remove any states from its weekly COVID-19 Travel Advisory on Sept. 28. The numbers of states and territories remain at 48 and three, respectively. California ...

Gay News

Defend Abortion Access marches/rallies planned across Illinois Oct. 2 2021-09-27
--From a press release - CHICAGO — A coalition of more than 20 progressive organizations, supporters, and providers of reproductive health care are holding "Defend Abortion Access" events across Illinois on Saturday, October 2, in response to the Texas abortion ban ...


Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.