November 2010
Volume 5, Issue 7
In This Issue
Access - CalHEP Survey & Pegasys Assistance
Federal & State Advocacy Updates
Member Spotlights - Southeast Asian Assistance Center & Mendocino County AVHN
Events - APHA & LA Hepatitis Conference
Awareness - New CME & Hepatitis Report

I am pleased to share the November edition of the California Hepatitis Alliance's newsletter with you. We have lots to share regarding new hepatitis resources, advocacy efforts at the state and national level, member updates and various fall events.

We hope you enjoy this edition of the newsletter.

Happy holidays to you all,
Michele Peterson
Associate Director, CalHEP


CalHEP Conducting Survey to Develop Online Statewide Hepatitis Referral Guide

By now your organization should have received an invitation to participate in the CalHEP member survey. The survey will help us (1) get to know your current needs and interests better and (2) allow us to develop a referral guide to help individuals identify hepatitis B & C resources across California. With your help, the referral guide will include information on where to find screening, support/education groups, syringe exchange, referrals to treatment, patient navigators, and vaccination. This activity is a direct result of CalHEP members' previous participation in developing the California Adult Viral Hepatitis Prevention Strategic Plan, 2010-2014. Please help us by completing this survey, so we can ensure that community members are made aware of services. If you did not receive an invitation, know of others we should invite or have any questions about the survey, contact Michelle Johnston.

Genentech Access Solutions for Pegasys

Genentech Access Solutions assists patients with reimbursement and alternative funding for Pegasys. If a Pegasys patient can't afford his or her co-pay, Genentech Access Solutions will refer him or her to an independent, non-profit co-pay organization and will help the individual through the process of applying to the organization. Patients needing assistance with accessing Pegasys should call 888-941-3331 or visit the Pegasys Access Solutions website. Uninsured patients or their physicians can call the Genentech Access to Care Foundation directly at 800-530-3083.


Federal Hepatitis Advocacy

CalHEP went to Washington DC in September to participate in the National Hepatitis C Advocacy Council's Legislative Advocacy Day and then participated in the review and public comment hearing on the Health and Human Services (HHS) Hepatitis Action Plan.

CalHEP staff met with the offices of Representatives Henry Waxman, Jerry Lewis, and Doris Matsui,  as well as Senator Dianne Feinstein. The meetings focused on educating the staff on the:

  • draft HHS Hepatitis Action Plan
  • Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) submission of a budget for Viral Hepatitis Prevention and Control to the US Senate
  • status of bipartisan legislation (H.R. 3974 and S. 3711) to increase awareness, prevention of viral hepatitis

The week after our meeting Doris Matsui signed on as a co-sponsor to H.R. 3974, demonstrating that Legislator's make decisions as a result of advocacy meetings with their constituents.CalHEP encourages you to get to know your law makers. Contact us if you would like assistance in preparing for those meetings.


The second day was dedicated to the public comment hearing on the (HHS) Hepatitis Action Plan, facilitated by Jon Ward from the CDC. The plan topics are educating providers and transforming communities to reduce health disparities; strengthening viral hepatitis surveillance; improving screening, care, and treatment for viral hepatitis; preventing injection drug use as a cause of viral hepatitis; preventing viral hepatitis transmission through vaccination; and preventing healthcare-associated viral hepatitis. The draft plan, and the communities' response to HHS are available online.

OASIS Clinic Activists Deliver Over 4,000 Petitions to Save Drug Medi-Cal Funding

OASIS Advocates Deliver Petitions to Governor's Office
OASIS Clinic activists, waiting to drop off their petitions
(Photo credit: Bill Hackwell)

On September 15th, OASIS Clinic activists and other partner organizations went to Sacramento to hand-deliver over 4,000 petitions they had collected from around the state, encouraging the Governor to maintain funding for Medi-Cal drug treatment services. Find more on the successful event here.

Governor Vetoes California Bills

Late on September 30th Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed two bills (SB 1029 and AB 1858) that would have reduced the number of new HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C cases. Having worked to develop, draft and support these bills, the staff and member organizations of the California Hepatitis Alliance (CalHEP) are extremely disappointed by this news. Governor Schwarzenegger did sign a bill to sustain the status quo: cities and counties may authorize pharmacists to furnish 10 or fewer syringes to an adult, and cities and counties may authorize syringe exchange services. CalHEP will continue to fight for evidence-based policies and programs to reduce the burden of the hepatitis B and C epidemics in California.  For the full story visit the CalHEP Policy News page.

CalHEP Member Spotlights
Meet a Member:
Southeast Asian Assistance Center

Southeast Asian Asstc Center Logo

Here is the latest in our series of articles featuring CalHEP members, featuring Laura Leonelli from the SAAC. Laura became interested in getting involved with hepatitis B after learning more about the importance of this issue at two events earlier this year, including the Health Policy Forum co-sponsored by CalHEP. Since then, the SAAC has worked to increase awareness about hepatitis B and encourage individuals to get tested.

According to Laura, "The Southeast Asian Assistance Center is so new at working on viral hepatitis issues. For me, it is shocking that this issue is under the radar. Part of the overall process is to have screening services to test for diabetes, hepatitis, and other diseases that impact health. Catching these diseases early will create the potential for better health. Our center is interested in staying connected with other organizations and community initiatives that are working on viral hepatitis issues."

Read the rest of Laura's interview on the viral hepatitis community page.

 Mendocino County AIDS/Viral Hepatitis Network Struggles for Funding


Libby Guthrie, executive director of the Mendocino County AIDS/Viral Hepatitis Network (MCAVHN) recently received her Ed.D. in counseling psychology. However, her current focus is on trying to meet the immediate financial needs of her organization, which has been forced to cut staff and services. Read more of her story on the viral hepatitis community page.

Support CalHEP

Recent Events
LA Hepatitis C Summit

CalHEP and the Hepatitis C Task Force for Los Angeles County were happy to cosponsor the Hepatitis C Summit 2010 on November 12, 2010. More than 200 healthcare providers and consumers in viral hepatitis attended the Summit, the largest annual gathering of people affected by viral hepatitis in Southern California. The program featured leading clinicians, policy makers, public health officials and consumer advocates addressing the latest in viral hepatitis treatment, prevention and policy issues facing Los Angeles County and California.

Vertex Patient Advocacy Advisory Board Meeting

CalHEP joined Vertex and advocates from around the country to talk about Vertex's new hepatitis C virus drug that will be reviewed by the FDA in 2011. The meeting focused on how Vertex could partner with the hepatitis C community to educate the medical community and the public on hepatitis C. Vertex also gave an overview of their efforts to promote awareness, screening and linkages to care.

American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases 2010 Meeting

The Honorable Howard Koh, MD, MPH, Assistant Secretary for Health, US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) gave the President's Choice Lecture at the Meeting. See the CalHEP news for the link to an archive of the presentation, where you can hear Dr. Koh speak on the findings in the Institute of Medicine report and how HHS is addressing viral hepatitis in the US. Following the meeting, Dr. Koh met with CalHEP and a group of advocates. He agrees that viral hepatitis needs to be better addressed by the US government; however, without increased Congressional appropriations there is little that can be done beyond current activities. HHS has published a Hepatitis Action Plan.

The Best of The Liver Meeting is also available online.

New Education Resources from CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has made a number of new viral hepatitis resources available for providers and consumers. Check out the CalHEP Education Resources for links to CMEs for providers and frontline workers, new consumer materials, and a video on Hepatitis B screening.


HBV & HCV: America's Hidden Epidemics

The American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) and the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) issued a report that examines how new measures included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) combined with new scientific advancements could be used to spare millions of Americans from developing cirrhosis, liver cancer, or other life threatening complications as they age - which could also lead to billions of dollars in health care savings.


CalHEP thanks the following corporations for their support: Bristol-Myers Squibb, Gilead Sciences Incorporated, Merck and Company Incorporated, Roche/Genentech and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated.
CalHEP is an initiative of the
Center for Health Improvement
1330 21st Street, Suite 100
Sacramento, California 95811

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter