April 2011
In This Issue
New Hepatitis Bills
Events & Trainings
Hepatitis C Resources
Member Spotlight - A&PI Wellness Center
Hepatitis B Prevalence & Recommendations
New Members

It's a busy time for the California Hepatitis Alliance (CalHEP), with a number of opportunities to advocate for improved viral hepatitis prevention, screening and treatment. Given our current state and federal budget crises, it is even more important to make sure the voices of hepatitis advocates are heard. If we can help you with your advocacy efforts, please let us know. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this issue of the CalHEP newsletter.



Michelle Johnston's signature
Michelle Johnston, MPH
Sr. Program Specialist &
CalHEP Project Director
Center for Health Improvement




Hepatitis Bills in the New Legislative Session
There are several bills related to hepatitis prevention and awareness in California's current legislative session. Here are some of the bills to follow:

AB 300, introduced by Assemblymember Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco), imposes minimum statewide standards for the regulation of practitioners engaged in the business of tattooing, body piercing, and the application of permanent cosmetics in California, including evidence of current Hepatitis B vaccination and completion of training in bloodborne pathogens.Capitol Dome

AB 310,
also introduced by Assemblymember Fiona Ma, would prohibit health care service plans and health insurers that offer outpatient prescription drug coverage from requiring coinsurance from the enrollee as a basis for cost sharing (e.g., specialty drug tiers). The bill would also impose certain limitations on copayments and out-of-pocket expenses for outpatient prescription drugs.


AB 604, introduced by Assemblymember Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), would allow the California Department of Public Health to authorize health and social service programs to provide syringe exchange services in any location where the department determines that the conditions exist for the rapid spread of HIV, viral hepatitis or other infections spread through the sharing of used syringes.


AB 1382, introduced by Roger Hernández (D-West Covina), would authorize HIV counselors to perform hepatitis C virus (HCV) or combined HIV/HCV tests in addition to HIV tests that are classified as waived under the federal Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act (CLIA).


SB 41, introduced by Senator Leland Yee (D, San Francisco), would allow pharmacists and physicians the discretion to furnish 30 or fewer syringes to adults without a prescription as part of the State's comprehensive strategy to prevent the spread of HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and other blood-borne diseases.


SCR 36, introduced by Senator Sam Blakeslee (R-San Luis Obispo), would designate May 19th as California's Viral Hepatitis Awareness Day. This resolution helps to increase awareness among Californians of the importance of viral hepatitis prevention, screening, and treatment.


For more on these bills and how to express your support, visit our Policy News and Calls to Action pages. Please get involved and advocate for these bills to help reduce the burden of viral hepatitis in California.


San Francisco Hepatitis C Task Force Releases Recommendations


The San Francisco Hepatitis C Task Force released a report expressing grave concern about the hepatitis C epidemic in San Francisco and outlining a series of recommendations for the Mayor and Board of Supervisors to mount a comprehensive effort to fight the disease. Some recommendations in the document include: establishing a hepatitis C coordinator position at the San Francisco Department of Public Health; ensuring full access to hepatitis C treatment and care through Healthy San Francisco; developing citywide educational/awareness campaigns; and creating a pilot legal supervised injection facility as part of a comprehensive hepatitis C prevention strategy.

Events and Trainings 


CalHEP to Brief Legislature on Hepatitis

CalHEP is planning to hold a policy briefing on May 19th at the State Capitol. This is a follow up to the briefing we held last year and will focus on hepatitis-related racial/ethnic and economic disparities, as well as opportunities related to health reform implementation. Look for your invitation in an upcoming email.

Archives for Webinars on Advocacy & Vaccines


Did you miss the great webinars that were held last month? If so, you'll be happy to know that they have been archived for your viewing pleasure. You can view two webinars on how to effectively talk with your legislators about hepatitis funding and health reform. Also, the California Department of  Public Health recently held a webinar on patient assistance programs for adult vaccines, including hepatitis. 



Better to Know C


Vertex Pharmaceuticals created the Better To Know C website to help individuals understand hepatitis C and prepare for treatment. The site has sections for learning about hepatitis C, getting tested, dealing with a diagnosis, and getting treated. Individuals who register get emails, monthly newsletters, and links providing access to a registered nurse to answer questions about hepatitis C; tools to help better control one's health; ways to build strong relationships with one's healthcare team; and the latest information about hepatitis C.

Hep C Discussion Point

caring ambassadors logo 
Caring Ambassadors' Hep C Discussion Point is a tool designed by medical experts that takes you through a series of questions about your hepatitis C experience. Once you've completed the questions, the program generates a customized list of topics you can print out and use as a guide in talking with your doctor.

CalHEP Member Spotlight


Meet a Member:

Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center


Asian and Pacific Islander Wellness Center LogoCarlos Bermudez, Director of Health Education for the Asian & Pacific Islander (API) Wellness Center, came to work on hepatitis through the Center's work on the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Clients who were co-infected with HIV and hepatitis B or C began to ask questions about hepatitis B and C. Viral hepatitis is also more common in the API and immigrant communities that the Wellness Center serves.

Carlos says of their successes, "the clinic successfully integrated hepatitis services. The A&PI community who suffers from hepatitis is highly stigmatized. Our clinic is screening and testing clients for hepatitis B and C, as well as HIV. We are also providing education on both hepatitis and HIV. Over the past 3 years we have screened over 1,000 individuals for hepatitis. We have also achieved a follow up rate of 95% of individuals screened. We have followed up with their results and provided vaccinations."

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



Hepatitis B in the US

Up-to-date estimates of the prevalence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, exposure, and immunity are necessary to assess the effectiveness of ongoing programs aimed at preventing HBV transmission. George Ioannou conducted a study to determine the prevalence and associations of chronic HBV infection, past exposure, and immunity in the United States from 1999 to 2008.
White House Road Map Includes
Hepatitis Recommendations
The White House released a report with 18 Agencies' plans to meet the needs of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community while leveraging the dynamic community assets that work to meet those needs. It includes the Department of Health and Human Services' goal to prevent, treat and control HBV infections in AAPI communities.


Support for CalHEP

CalHEP recently received funding from Bristol-Myers Squibb.

If you would like to contribute to CalHEP to help us advocate for policies that improve hepatitis prevention, screening and treatment, click on the link below.

CalHEP donation button

Welcome New Members

We are pleased to welcome the following organizations to CalHEP:
  • BAART Programs-Turk
  • La Amistad Family Health Center
  • Vertex Pharmaceuticals (Associate Member)

You can also view the full list of members and see more detailed member profiles on the CalHEP website. Encourage others to visit our website to learn more about free CalHEP membership.

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

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CalHEP is now a member of the California Partnership for Access to Treatment (CPAT) . CPAT supports eliminating health care disparities and reducing the barriers to quality care, treatment, and access to medicines for the underinsured, minorities, and underserved communities.

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CalHEP is an initiative of the
Center for Health Improvement

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Sacramento, California 95811