February 2011
Volume 6, Issue 1
In This Issue
CalHEP Update
Access - CalHEP Survey
State & Federal Advocacy Updates
Member Spotlights - Hep C Task Force for LA County & Wings for Life
Events - Vaccine Webinar & Chronic Viral Hepatitis Conference
Awareness - Hepatitis B Among Asian-Americans & Hepatitis C Among Injection Drug Users

Greetings. I hope the New Year is treating you well so far. I am happy to share CalHEP's first newsletter of 2011. This newsletter includes updates on CalHEP's activities, new legislation, informative events, resource materials and the activities of our members. Don't miss the upcoming webinars (one this Friday) and the opportunity to speak with members of Congress next week when they are home on recess. We look forward to working with you in 2011 to improve the prevention, screening and treatment of viral hepatitis. 


Michelle Johnston's signature
Michelle Johnston, MPH

Sr. Program Specialist, Center for Health Improvement

Update on CalHEP Activities

The Center for Health Improvement is pleased to share that Michelle Johnston, CHI Senior Program Specialist, will be stepping up to serve as the Project Manager for CalHEP.  Michelle brings a wealth of experience in both public health and organizational development, and is looking forward to helping shepherd CalHEP to success in its advocacy, awareness and education goals. CHI would also like to express sincere appreciation to Michele Peterson for her hard work over the last two years in helping to make CalHEP a stronger voice for those affected by hepatitis; we wish her all the best with her future endeavors.


CalHEP staff and Steering Committee members have updated our work plan for the rest of the fiscal year (through June 2011). Here's what we have planned:
  • Continue to gather information on available hepatitis services and launch the online referral guide
  • Educate legislative and agency staff on economic and racial/ethnic disparities related to hepatitis through a Sacramento briefing and distribution of a written brief
  • Continue to advocate at the state and federal level through action alerts, letters of support, etc.
  • Seek out opportunities to participate in joint advocacy efforts with other organizations on health care reform implementation in California, related to hepatitis and other chronic conditions
  • Provide ongoing leadership and communication to increase CalHEP's reach throughout California  
If you would like to get more involved in any of these efforts or have questions about CalHEP's activities, please contact Michelle Johnston via email or by calling 916-930-9216.

Have You Taken the Referral Guide Survey?
Know Someone Else Who Should Take It? 

Late last year your organization 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 know other groups we should include in he referral guide who are not CalHEP members, please send them this link. If you have any questions about the survey, contact Michelle Johnston.

2011 California Legislative
Year Begins


As the new year begins, California's legislators are introducing new bills. Senator Leland Yee (D-SF) has reintroduced a bill to allow adults to purchase and possess syringes from an authorized source, including licensed pharmacies, physicians and syringe exchange programs. Senate Bill 41 is similar to a bill that the Governor vetoed last year. There will likely be other bills introduced related to viral hepatitis, including a resolution for California's Viral Hepatitis Awareness Day. To keep updated on the status of the bills, visit the CalHEP Policy News page and look for our Calls to Action on the website or via email. 

Federal Hepatitis Advocacy


The budget proposal released this week by President Obama included $25 million in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's budget for viral hepatitis. This is an increase of over $5 million from the fiscal year 2010 for expanded state and local viral hepatitis surveillance, prevention, screening and training efforts.

Congressional Representatives are home next week on recess. This presents a timely opportunity to meet with them and share your stories on why it is important for them to fight for health care reform implementation and increases in funding for viral hepatitis, such as the one proposed by the President. Not sure what to say? Check out this Friday's webinar (see the Events section) for ideas.
CalHEP Member Spotlights
Meet a Member:
Hepatitis C Task Force for LA County 

Hep C Task Force LA Logo

Here is the latest in our series of articles on CalHEP members, featuring Danny Jenkins from the Hepatitis C Task Force for LA County. An unexpected diagnosis thrust Danny into the world of hepatitis C. With a background in nonprofits, Danny became involved with the Task Force, now serving as its co-chair. Danny is well aware of the need to identify those with hepatitis and help them determine the best treatment.


In his interview with us, Danny spoke about the need for coordination among those working on different health issues: "Advocates for cancer or HIV should not be pitted against each other for scarce health resources. Diseases like HIV, mental health and addiction shouldn't, in my view, build administrative empires that operate like silos that fail to operate together - especially when people are rarely coping with just a single health challenge."


Read the rest of Danny''s interview and other news from CalHEP members on the viral hepatitis community page.


 Interview on the Economics of Hepatitis C


Theresa Hughes, CalHEP Steering Committee Member and Founder and President of Wings for Life, was interviewed late last year on the Peter B. Collins radio program. Theresa spoke regarding the epidemic of hepatitis C in the prison system and its impact on individuals, communities and the health care system. Visit the Wings for Life website to hear the full interview


Support for CalHEP

CalHEP recently received funding from Gilead Sciences Incorporated and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated.

If you would like to contribute to CalHEP, click on the link below.

Upcoming Events

Webinar: Hepatitis Advocacy at Home 


February 18, 2011, 12:00 - 1:00 PM

House members will be home next week on recess. Our elected officials have told us again that they want to hear from their constituents.  It is up to you to speak.  Attend this webinar to learn what simple action steps you can take next week to help people at risk or, or living with, hepatitis B or C.

Webinar: Hepatitis and Tdap Vaccine Patient Assistance Programs

March 8, 2011, 12:00 - 1:00 PM

The Adult Hepatitis Vaccine Project and the Tdap Expansion Project, which provided free vaccines to providers for administration in clinical settings serving at-risk populations, were recently discontinued due to budget cuts. The California Department of Public Health is hosting this webinar on how to access free vaccine for low-income, at-risk patients through several vaccine manufacturers' patient assistance programs. Click to register or email with questions.

NPR Story on Risk of Hepatitis B Among Asian-Americans


National Public Radio ran an interview on hepatitis B, including how it is prevented and transmitted, myths, stigma, and the impact on the Asian-American community.


Study Finds Little Decline in Hepatitis C Infections Among Injection Drug Users

A recent 20-year study of injection drug users (IDUs) in Baltimore found a significant decline in new cases of HIV infection but only a slight decline in new cases of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. The story highlights findings suggesting that efforts to curb blood-borne transmission of these viral infections have had success but must be expanded against the highly transmissible HCV.


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CalHEP thanks the following corporations for their support: Gilead Sciences 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