CalHEP Newsletter
July/August 2010
Volume 5, Issue 6
In This Issue
CalHEP Members Present to Medical Board of CA
Advocacy Update
Follow Us
Meet A Member
Member Spotlight


I am pleased to share the July/August edition of the California Hepatitis Alliance's newsletter with you. You'll notice that this issue features a number of advocacy topics. Two bills supported by CalHEP are awaiting the Governor's signature. At the federal level, legislation to increase funding for hepatitis prevention, screening and treatment has been introduced in both houses. It's an exciting time for viral hepatitis policy work and we at CalHEP are happy to support our members in achieving these policy goals. We are also increasing our social media presence. Please take the time to join the Center for Health Improvement's (CHI) Facebook page or subscribe to our Twitter feed for breaking hepatitis and health policy news.

We hope you enjoy this edition of the newsletter and continue to promote sound public health policy and advocacy efforts to improve California's public health approach to liver wellness.
Michele Peterson
Associate Director, CalHEP

CalHEP Presents to Medical Board of California

As a result of the May 19, 2010 California Health Policy Forum on viral hepatitis, co-sponsored by CalHEP, the Medical Board of California requested that CalHEP supply expert testimony on viral hepatitis. On July 28, 2010, CalHEP staff and members attended the Medical Board of California's education subcommittee meeting. CalHEP members, Dr. Sam So, Dr. Diana Sylvestre and Dr. Eddie Cheung presented, along with Dr. Gail Bolan. The presentations were intended to educate the committee and aid in discussions about whether to add viral hepatitis to the 25 credit hours of continuing medical education.


Gail Bolan, M.D., Chief, Sexually Transmitted Diseases Control Branch at the Center for Infectious Diseases, California Department of Public Health (CDPH), presented highlights from the California Adult Viral Hepatitis Strategic Plan, 2010-2014, with emphasis on provider education and the clinical advisory board. She concluded with what CDPH is currently doing and possible ways that CDPH and the Medical Board can collaborate to educate doctors on viral hepatitis. 


Dr. Eddie Cheung, Director-Hepatology at the VA Northern California Health Care System, presented the current state of viral hepatitis services in California, with an emphasis on the gaps in provider practices. He provided examples of how he is addressing these gaps within his work. 


Dr. Sam So, founder of the Asian Liver Center, shared the gaps in provider knowledge as outlined in the Institute of Medicine report. He also provided examples of how he is addressing these gaps with the Hep B Free program.


Dr. Diana Sylvestre, Executive Director of the OASIS Clinic, closed with a powerful presentation on the five reasons to consider viral hepatitis for one credit hour of continuing medical education. She shared that improving physician knowledge about viral hepatitis:

1. Is evidence-based.

2. Will save money.

3. Will help control a preventable epidemic.

4. Will be good for patients.

5. Will be good for doctors.


The Medical Board did not make a decision at the close of the meeting. CalHEP intends to follow up to learn more about the decision making process and ways we can collaborate to educate physicians on viral hepatitis testing, treatment and vaccination.

Viral Hepatitis Prevention -
California Legislative Update

As you know, this year the California Hepatitis Alliance (CalHEP) has assisted in the drafting and support of two syringe access bills: Senate Bill 1029 and Assembly Bill 1858.

Senate Bill 1029 (SB 1029), authored by State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), would allow pharmacists statewide the discretion to sell up to 30 syringes to an adult without a prescription.

Assembly Bill 1858 (AB 1858), authored by Assembly member Bob Blumenfield (D-Van Nuys), would allow the California Department of Public Health to authorize syringe exchange services in locations where the conditions exist for the rapid spread of viral hepatitis, HIV or other potentially deadly or disabling diseases. 

Both bills have passed the Assembly and Senate and are awaiting the Governor's signature. Now is the time to ask Governor Schwarzenegger to sign these bills. Visit our website for CalHEP advocacy alerts.

In addition, we co-sponsored and have been supporting Assemblymember Fiona Ma's bill related to continuing medical education on hepatitis.

Assembly Bill 2600 (AB 2600), authored by Assemblymember Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco), would require the Medical Board of California to consider including a course in the diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis in continuing education requirements.
As of August 20, the bill has been amended and no longer addresses viral hepatitis and provider education. Assemblymember Fiona Ma stated that she will continue to support viral hepatitis in the policy arena. Having met the goal of meeting with the Medical Board of California to present the need for physician education on viral hepatitis, Assemblymember Ma felt that the bill was no longer essential to this advocacy effort.  CalHEP wishes to thank you for your letters of support to your legislators. 

Federal Hepatitis Advocacy

Bills have been introduced in both houses of Congress for viral hepatitis and liver cancer control and prevention: H.R. 3974 and S. 3711. The National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable (NVHR) has been coordinating advocacy activities to help get these bills passed. CalHEP will be sharing advocacy alerts with our members related to these bills.

NVHR has prepared two advocacy briefs to give individuals the background they need to advocate for improved policies related to hepatitis B and C. Closing the Gap in Hepatitis B Prevention, Screening and Care and Closing the Gap in Hepatitis C Prevention, Screening and Care are available in the policy resources section of the CalHEP website.

World Hepatitis Alliance Adopts Hepatitis Resolution
 At the 63rd Assembly held earlier this year, World Health Organization (WHO) member states adopted a resolution calling for the World Health Organization to develop a comprehensive approach to the prevention and control of hepatitis, based on an earlier report. Among other recommendations, the members designated July 28th as World Hepatitis Day in order to provide an opportunity for education and greater understanding of viral hepatitis as a global public health problem, and to stimulate the strengthening of preventive and control measures of this disease in Member States.
More Ways to Get the Latest News from CalHEP

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While we've been on Facebook for awhile, you can now find us on Twitter too. To get the latest news on hepatitis and health policy issues, click on one of the links above to find our Facebook or Twitter pages.
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Center for Health Improvement
1330 21st Street, Suite 100
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CalHEP Attends Genentech Meeting on HCV Treatment Medications

On July 12, 2010, CalHEP joined Genentech and advocates from around the country to talk about Genentech's new hepatitis C virus (HCV) drugs that are in the FDA pipeline; access and patient support services; and development strategies for addressing HCV/HIV co-infection. Read an update on financial support for Pegasys.

FDA Approves Rapid
 HCV Blood Test

OraSure Technologies, Inc.  announced that its OraQuick(R) Hepatitis C (HCV) Rapid Antibody Test has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in detecting HCV antibodies in venous whole blood specimens, making it the first rapid HCV test approved by the FDA for use in the United States.

California Project Featured in JAMA
The June 16th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) featured an article on California's Adult Hepatitis Vaccine Project. In response to a CDC initiative encouraging states to use existing federal funds to purchase adult hepatitis B-containing (HepB) vaccine, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) established the Adult Hepatitis Vaccine Project (AHVP) to expand hepatitis B vaccination in sites serving at-risk adults. This report summarizes results for 2007-2008, which indicated that 28,824 doses of HepB vaccine were administered at 29 participating sites in the first 19 months of AHVP; 13 sites administered HepB vaccine for the first time. Federal provision of vaccine resulted in vaccination of many who otherwise might not have been vaccinated. 

Click for more Viral Hepatitis News.
Meet A Member
Sami Rhodes, Sierra Hope
To help you learn more about other CalHEP members, we will be including information about members in each issue. Our first interview is with Sami Rhodes from Sierra Hope.

"hepatitis C and their family members. We started to receive a significant amount of requests in 2001. The individuals called Sierra Hope for support because they or a family member had been diagnosed with hepatitis C, but that is all they were told. In 2003 there was a gentleman who frequently called the center to ask for support. The persistence of this individual inspired Sierra Hope to create a support group. Five individuals attended the first support group meeting and 14 attended the second meeting. People have demonstrated a positive attitude toward this group."

"This job allows me to work with people that come from all walks of life. Health professionals call our organization to ask for referral information on hepatitis C resources. There is much work to do ahead to meet the needs of the public. We need funding to be able to 'hit the streets and do the job.'"

To read the rest of Sami's interview, visit the Viral Hepatitis Community page.

Member Spotlight
Butte County Public Health Department
Congratulations to the Butte County Public Health Department, who recently received a $25,000 grant from the Sierra Health Foundation. The goal of the project is to reduce the spread of Hepatitis C by providing targeted education, testing, referral for treatment and support services to high-risk individuals, primarily at drug rehabilitation centers and homeless shelters. They were one of 21 proposals selected from 290 applicants. Congratulations!

Sierra AIDS Walk
Saturday, September 18, 2010 at Calaveras Big Trees State Park

2010 Hepatitis C Summit

Friday, November 12, 2010

9:00 AM - 3:30PM

The California Endowment Community Center in Downtown, Los Angeles. 

Submit an abstract for presentation by Sept 15, 2010.

Support CalHEP

CalHEP thanks the following corporations for their support: Bristol-Myers Squibb, Gilead Sciences Incorporated, Merck and Company Incorporated, Roche/Genentech and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated.