As an organization that strives everyday to exceed the standards set by the National Health Council and monitoring agencies, we are proud that donor contributions are put to the best possible use. These American Liver Foundation policies guide the conduct of our staff and volunteers to ensure we continue to meet industry standards.
The purpose of this policy is to ensure that the corporate relationships entered into by the American Liver Foundation (ALF) are conducted in a manner consistent with its mission, principles, public positions, policies and standards. For purposes of this policy, the terms “corporate” or “corporation” shall also include any other kind of organizational entity, such as but not limited to partnerships, or foundations.
Your health and safety continue to be our number one priority. American Liver Foundation (ALF) staff, board of directors and healthcare advisors are closely monitoring the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. ALF will follow all local, state and federal guidelines. Absent any guidelines to the contrary, for ALF events held indoors or outdoors we recommend, but do not require, participants to wear masks and be appropriately vaccinated and boosted to best protect our patient population. If a change to the current event or program needs to be made, we will provide participants with detailed information on those changes regarding our COVID-19 safety policies.
Please Note: An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with underlying medical conditions and older adults are especially vulnerable and need to take the appropriate recommended steps and precautions to prevent infection.
By attending an ALF in-person event, you acknowledge and voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.
Liver disease does not discriminate.
- Hepatitis C (HCV) is more prevalent in African Americans than in any other racial group in the U.S. and African Americans are more likely to be deemed ineligible for HCV treatment than non-African Americans.1
- African and Hispanic Americans are the two groups of people who have the largest increase in incidence of liver cancer and the lowest rates of curative treatment.2
- African and Hispanic Americans are more likely to be uninsured than white Americans.3, 4
This is not acceptable.
We at the American Liver Foundation (ALF) are devastated by recent events and stand firmly against racism and inequality in all forms. We pledge to expand our offerings in marginalized communities, and to continue to treat everyone with the dignity, kindness and compassion that is their birthright.
ALF’s vision is a world without liver disease. Until that day comes, we will continue to fight for equal access to health care and better outcomes for all people impacted by liver disease.
The American Liver Foundation solicits unrestricted and restricted gifts from individuals, corporations, foundations and other private/governmental entities to secure the financial growth and fulfill the mission of The American Liver Foundation. The purpose of this Gift Acceptance Policy is to define the practices and policies governing the acceptance of gifts by The American Liver Foundation and to provide guidance to prospective donors and their advisors when making gifts to The American Liver Foundation, so as to ensure that all accepted gifts meet established standards.
Hepatitis C Virus Infection in Adolescents and Adults: Screening
Recommendations made by the USPSTF are independent of the U.S. government. They should not be construed as an official position of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. To read and download the full position statement, visit the USPSTF web page.
The American Liver Foundation recognizes the significant burden of hepatitis A infection for U.S. families and communities. Each year, more than 180,000 children and adults are infected with this virus, making it the sixth most commonly reported infectious disease in the United States.1,2 In 1999, public health costs for hepatitis A control and management exceeded $500 million.3 There is no treatment for hepatitis A disease, but prevention is available with immunization. The American Liver Foundation endorses the position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) that routine childhood vaccination is the most effective way to reduce hepatitis A incidence nationwide over time.4 In addition, American Liver Foundation supports a comprehensive plan for vaccination of at risk adults and public health action that includes outreach to families and communities, professional education, and nation-wide coalition building for expanded immunization services and research.
Hepatitis A Impact
By some estimates, 10 million people worldwide acquire the hepatitis A virus (HAV) every year.5 In the United States, hepatitis A is one of the most frequently reported vaccine-preventable diseases, ranking sixth among the top ten causes of food-borne illness.6 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 180,000 asymptomatic and symptomatic hepatitis A infections occur each year, with approximately one-third involving children < 15 years of age.7 Each year, hepatitis A disease causes approximately 100 deaths.
Hepatitis A often occurs in community-wide epidemics, as occurred in five states in March 1997.9 Cyclic increases of hepatitis A occur approximately every decade in the U.S., but relatively high rates for the disease continue between epidemics. Within the United States; states, counties and communities can be considered to have high, intermediate, or low rates of hepatitis A on the basis of epidemiological characteristics.10
Over the past several decades, areas in the western U.S. have had substantially higher rates of hepatitis A disease than the rest of the country. According to the CDC, most hepatitis A cases result from person-to-person transmission during community-wide outbreaks in these regions. During the period 1987-1997, 68% of U.S. cases occurred in these endemic western states.11
- High rate states are those with the average annual hepatitis A rate during 1987-1997 greater than 20 cases per 100,000 population (approximately twice the national average). These states include: Arizona, Alaska, Oregon, New Mexico, Utah, Washington, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Idaho, Nevada, and California.12
- Intermediate rate states are those with the average annual rate of hepatitis A during 1987-1997 was greater than 10 cases per 100,000 population (approximately the national average) but less than 20 cases per 100,000. These states include: Missouri, Texas, Colorado, Arkansas, Montana and Wyoming.3
Hepatitis A Risk Groups
Historically in the United States, certain populations are at increased risk for hepatitis A disease. Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, Alaskan Natives, migrant populations and certain religious groups have had a higher incidence of hepatitis A in past decades. Some of these rates are now changing as a result of hepatitis A vaccination programs, but without immunization these communities continue at increased risk for the disease.14
According to the CDC, other persons are also at increased risk for HAV infection:
- Persons traveling to or working in countries that have high or intermediate rates of infection, especially frequent short-term travelers and persons staying for extended periods of time. Geographic areas with increased risk include: Asia, Africa, South America, Latin America, the Middle East, European countries bordering the Mediterranean, and Eastern European countries. Risk for HAV infection in these regions increases with duration of travel.
- Men who have sex with men.
- Persons who use injection and non-injection illegal drugs
- Persons who have an occupational risk for infection including persons working with HAV-infected primates and with the HAV in a research laboratory setting.
- Persons who have clotting-factor disorders, especially those administered solvent-detergent-treated preparations.15
- In addition, the CDC considers persons with chronic liver disease at increased risk for the serious sequela of hepatitis A infection, including acute liver failure.16
The American Liver Foundation recognizes other groups for which HAV infection may pose a special risk. These include groups historically associated with common source outbreaks and persons with regular or increased risk for exposure to fecal material:
- Food handlers17
- Military personnel18
- Day care personnel and children attending day care, as well as their parents, siblings and close contacts19
- Health care workers20
- Staff of institutions for the developmentally disabled21
- Consumers of certain high risk foods (e.g. raw shellfish)22
Hepatitis A Disease
Hepatitis A is a serious viral infection of the liver with a variable incubation period of 15 to 50 days.23 It is a systemic disease characterized by an abrupt onset of symptoms that can include fever, fatigue, malaise, anorexia, nausea, abdominal pain, dark urine, and jaundice.24 Hepatitis A symptoms are age-related. Most cases (70%) in children less than 6 years are asymptomatic, while greater than 70% of older children and adult patients develop jaundice.25,26 Older children and adults can experience debilitating symptoms that persist for 2 to 8 weeks. For most of these patients, the illness usually resolves within 2 months, but 10-15% of symptomatic cases can persist or relapse for up to 6 months.27 Persons older than 50 years of age and those with chronic liver disease are at increased risk of acute liver failure due to hepatitis A, a life-threatening event. The mortality rate for adults over age 50 is 27 per 1000 cases. Each year an estimated 100 persons die in the U.S. due to acute liver failure from Hepatitis A.28
Hepatitis A Transmission
The hepatitis A virus (HAV) is highly contagious and is primarily transmitted by the fecal-oral route, through person-to-person contact, or through the ingestion of contaminated food or water. HAV transmission has been linked to uncooked fruits and vegetables, shellfish, and contaminated ice.29 The virus can survive on a surface (e.g. toys, cutting boards) for up to one month.30 CDC documents that approximately 25% of infection with hepatitis A is through household/personal contact; 15% though daycare settings; 7% from international travel and 7% of the cases are outbreak-related. In almost 50% of hepatitis A cases the source of infection is unknown.31
Hepatitis A in young children is often a mild or asymptomatic infection, but young children with unrecognized infections play an important role in HAV transmission. Children infected with the virus have a longer incubation period than adults and can continue to shed virus in their stool for as long as 180 days. They can serve as a significant “invisible” source of infection for others, especially in highly endemic states and in outbreak communities. Care givers in the household and at day care centers risk hepatitis A exposure when changing diapers of infected, asymptomatic children.32,33 Several studies document the role of children < 6 years with HAV transmission within households. In one study of adults without an identifiable source of transmission, over 50% of their households included a child under age 6 associated with the transmission of the disease to family members.34
Economic Impact on Families, Communities, and Business
The economic costs of hepatitis A are significant. Between 11% and 22% of persons who have the disease are hospitalized. A typical adult case of hepatitis A will result in 27 lost days of work.35 Average costs (direct and indirect) of hepatitis A range from $1,817 to $2,459 per case for adults and from $433 to $1492 per case for children less than 18 years of age.36 Health departments incur substantial costs responding to outbreaks. A 1996 Denver, Colorado food-borne outbreak affected 43 persons and cost the community $800,000.37 Restaurants with hepatitis infected food workers also risk economic consequences. Recently, a Seattle law firm won a $1.06 million settlement on behalf of 29 hepatitis A outbreak victims at a local fast food franchise.38
The total economic burden of hepatitis A disease is significant and growing. In 1989 the annual cost of this disease was estimated at $200 million.39 A 1999 analysis estimated that the annual cost of hepatitis A among adolescents and adults now approximated $500 million.40
Hepatitis A Prevention, Treatment, and Outbreak Response
Good personal hygiene, including hand washing, is recommended for the prevention of any food-borne illness. Other preventive public health measures include good sanitation, a safe water supply, and careful food preparation. HAV can be inactivated by boiling or cooking to greater than 185 degrees F or chlorinating the water supply.41
Longer-term prevention against hepatitis A is available with immunization. Currently, there are 2 inactivated single antigen virus vaccines available for protection against hepatitis A in the United States: Havrix and Vaqta. Clinical studies for both have demonstrated excellent protective efficacy, immunogenicity, and safety.42,43 The CDC and others have documented the ability of routine childhood immunization with these vaccines to effectively interrupt and prevent community outbreaks of hepatitis A disease in highly endemic areas.44 Recently the FDA has approved Twinrix, another inactivated vaccine for hepatitis A protection. For use in adults only, Twinrix is a combination vaccine against hepatitis A and B.
To prevent hepatitis A during international travel, persons over age two going to endemic areas can receive hepatitis A vaccine and education about personal hygiene and food and beverage safety. Accompanying children under age two and persons departing in less than four weeks can receive immune globulin for short-term protection against HAV.
In the event of a community-wide outbreak, immune globulin can be offered as post-exposure prophylaxis to persons with close contact to identified cases. At this time, hepatitis A vaccine can also be offered concomitantly for longer-term protection.
There is no curative treatment for hepatitis A disease and clinical management for symptomatic cases is supportive care.
American Liver Foundation Call For Action
I. Public Health Recommendations
The American Liver Foundation endorses the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) for the immunization of children and adults at increased risk for hepatitis A infection and for any person wishing to obtain immunity.45
A. Recommendations for Children at Increased Risk for Hepatitis A Infection
1. Routine vaccination for pre-exposure prevention is recommended for children living in areas where the rates of hepatitis A are at least twice the national average or greater than 20 cases per 100,000 population during 1987-1997. Beginning at age 2, these children should be routinely immunized against hepatitis A and catch-up vaccination of pre-school children should be a highest priority. These states and communities include:
- Arizona, Alaska, Oregon, New Mexico, Utah, Washington, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Idaho, Nevada, and California.
- American Indian, Alaskan Native, and selected Hispanic, migrant, and religious communities.
The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that children 2 years and older who live in defined and circumscribed communities with high endemic rates should be vaccinated against hepatitis A.46
2. Routine vaccination for pre-exposure prevention should be considered for children who live in areas where the annual rates of hepatitis A are greater than the national average, but lower than twice the national average (e.g. children who lives in intermediate-rate states where the average annual rate of hepatitis A during 1987-1997 was greater than 10 cases per 100,000 population but less than 20 cases per 100,000). These states and counties include:
- Missouri, Texas, Colorado, Arkansas, Montana and Wyoming.
- Children who live in select counties or communities where rates are greater than the national average but lower than twice the national average.
The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that children 2 years and older residing in defined communities with periodic outbreaks of hepatitis A be vaccinated.47
B. Recommendations for Persons at Increased Risk for Hepatitis A Infection
1. Routine vaccination is recommended for persons traveling to or working in countries that have high or intermediate rates of infection. These areas include: Asia, Africa, South America, Latin America, the Middle East, European countries bordering the Mediterranean, and Eastern European countries and for;
- Children greater than 2 years of age, adolescents and adults who plan frequent travel or who reside for long periods in high-risk areas should receive the age appropriate dose of the hepatitis A vaccination.
- Children less than 2 years of age who should receive immune globulin because the vaccine is currently not licensed for this age group.
- Persons traveling to a high-risk area <4 weeks after the initial hepatitis A vaccine dose also should be administered IG for protection.
2. Men who have sex with men;
3. Persons who use injection and non-injection illegal drugs;
4. Persons who have an occupational risk for infection including persons working with HAV-infected primates and with the HAV in a research laboratory setting;
5. Persons who have clotting-factor disorders, especially those administered solvent-detergent-treated preparations.
C. Recommendations for Persons with Chronic Liver Disease
1. Routine vaccination is recommended for persons with evidence of chronic liver disease who are at increased risk for acquiring hepatitis A and for;
2. Susceptible persons who are either awaiting or have received liver transplants.
D. Recommendations for Hepatitis A Vaccination During Outbreaks
1. In communities with high rates of hepatitis A, vaccination efforts among preschool and school-age children should be intensified during an outbreak to achieve at least a 70% vaccination coverage level.
2. In communities with intermediate rates of hepatitis A, outbreak recommendations include:
- Routine childhood vaccination should be initiated during the outbreak, if this recommendation has not yet been implemented.
- Accelerated vaccination can be considered using local surveillance and epidemiological data to define populations and community areas at highest risk for hepatitis A infection.
- Evaluation of the effectiveness of vaccination programs to control outbreaks in these communities should be an essential element of programs in these settings.
3. In communities with low rates of hepatitis A, community-wide outbreaks are uncommon. However, if outbreaks do occur, vaccination programs should focus on identified risk groups of adults or children.
4. For outbreaks in other settings, including day care center, hospitals, institutions for the developmentally disabled, prisons, and schools, recommendations include:
- Post-exposure prophylaxis with immune globulin is for individuals who had close contact with the infected person(s)
- However, the following issues should be noted:
- The frequency of outbreaks in these settings is not high enough to warrant routine hepatitis A vaccination of persons specifically because they are in these settings.
- Few data exist regarding the role of hepatitis A vaccine in controlling outbreaks in these settings.
II. Other ALF Recommendations
In addition to the CDC guidelines for the prevention and eradication of hepatitis A in the U.S., ALF recommends:
A. Administration of hepatitis A vaccine to food handlers. Food handlers have a critical role in common-source food-borne HAV transmission. This group should be vaccinated to reduce the frequency of medical evaluations of food handlers with hepatitis A and to eliminate the need for post-exposure prophylaxis for patrons. 48
B. Expanded vaccine use should be considered for groups often associated with common source outbreaks including: military personnel, day care personnel, health care workers, staff of institutions for the developmentally disabled, children at day care centers, as well as their parents, siblings and other close contacts, persons who repeatedly contract sexually transmitted diseases, and consumers of high risk foods (e.g. raw shellfish).
C. Administration of hepatitis A vaccine to persons who test positive for hepatitis C, with or without evidence of chronic liver disease.49
D. Educational outreach to individuals, families and communities: The American public continues to be largely unaware of its risk for this disease. There is a need for ongoing education about hepatitis A transmission, its economic impact and the availability of a safe and effective vaccine.
E. Endemic communities and persons at high risk should receive customized educational messages.
F. Enhanced Professional Education: Health professionals can benefit from updated information on the epidemiology of hepatitis A within the U.S., the efficacy and safety of hepatitis A vaccines, and the revised ACIP vaccination recommendations. AS well, updated patient educational materials, available in multiple languages and different literacy levels, should be readily available to help clinicians meet their hepatitis A vaccination goals with targeted ethnic and cultural populations.
G. Coalition-Building in Endemic States: ALF chapters will work to gain the support of critical partners in this public health effort. Potential partners include state and community health departments, school boards and parent-teacher associations, school nurses, day care organizations, parent advocacy groups, pediatricians, hepatologists and gastroenterologists, restaurant associations, and organizations with high-risk group members. ALF chapters will work with state and local legislative groups to fully implement this action plan.
H. Support for Ongoing Research to Eliminate HAV Transmission: Vaccine research is needed to address the issue of infant immunogenicity and develop vaccines that protect children < 2 years of age. Research is needed to test the value of hepatitis A vaccine as post-exposure prophylaxis. As well, outreach techniques must be refined to effectively reach target groups with the hepatitis A prevention message, especially in endemic areas.
1, 2 CDC. Summary of notifiable diseases, United States, 1997. MMWR 1998; 46:1-87..CDC. Prevention of hepatitis A through active and passive immunization. MMWR 1999;48 (No. RR-12): 5.
3 Jacobs J. “The cost effectiveness of childhood hepatitis A vaccination.” Presentation at American Liver Foundation Meeting “Strategic Directions for Reducing Hepatitis A in High Endemic States”, St Louis, MO, June 10, 2000.
4 CDC. Prevention of hepatitis A through active and passive immunization. MMWR 1999; 48 (No. RR-12): 1
5 de Vincent-Hayes N. Hepatitis. Current Health 1995; 22(4): 20.
6 CDC. Summary of notifiable diseases, United States, 1997. MMWR 1998; 46:1-87.
7 CDC. Prevention of hepatitis A through active and passive immunization. MMWR 1999; 48(No. RR-12): 5
8 CDC. Prevention of hepatitis A through active and passive immunization. MMWR 1999; 48(No. RR-12): 4
9 Hutin YJ, et al. A multistate, food borne outbreak of hepatitis A. N Engl J Med 1999; 340(8): 595-602.
10 CDC. Prevention of hepatitis A through active and passive immunization. MMWR 1999; 48(No. RR-12): 9
11 CDC. Prevention of hepatitis A through active and passive immunization. MMWR 1999; 48(No. RR-12): 7
12 CDC. Prevention of hepatitis A through active and passive immunization. MMWR 1999; 48(No. RR-12): 8
13 CDC. Prevention of hepatitis A through active and passive immunization. MMWR 1999; 48(No. RR-12): 9
14 Koff RS. Seroepidemiology of hepatitis A in the United States. J Infect Dis. 1995; 171 (suppl 1): S19-S23.
15 CDC. Prevention of hepatitis A through active and passive immunization. MMWR 1999; 48(No. RR-12): 11-12
16 CDC. Prevention of hepatitis A through active and passive immunization. MMWR 1999; 48(No. RR-12): 12
17 Carl M, Francis DP, Maynard JE. Food-borne hepatitis: recommendations for control. J Infect Dis 1983; 148:1133-5.
18 Jefferson TO, et al. Should British soldiers be vaccinated against hepatitis A? An economic analysis. Vaccine 1994; 12: 1379-83
19 Hadler SC, et al. Hepatitis A in day-care centers: a community wide assessment. N Engl J Med 1980; 302:1222-7.
20 Rosenblum LS et al. Hepatitis A outbreak in a neonatal intensive care unit: risk factors for transmission and evidence of prolonged viral excretion among preterm infants. J Infect Dis 1991; 164:476-82.
21 Szmuness W, Purcell RH, Dienstag JL, Stevens CE. Antibody to hepatitis A antigen in institutionalized mentally retarded patients. JAMA 1977; 237:1702-5.
22 Desenclos JA et al. A multistate outbreak of hepatitis A caused by the consumption of raw oysters. Am J Public Health 1991; 81
23 Krugman S, Giles JP. Viral hepatitis: new light on an old disease. JAMA 1970; 212:1019-29.
24 Koff RS. Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of hepatitis A virus infection. Vaccine. 1992; 10 (suppl 1): S15-S17.
25,26 Hadler SC, et al. Hepatitis A in day-care centers: a community wide assessment. N Engl J Med 1980; 302:1222-7. Lednar WM et al. Frequency of illness associated with hepatitis A virus infection in adults. Am J Epidemiol 1985; 122:226-33.
27 Glikson M, et al. Relapsing hepatitis A. Review of 14 cases and literature survey. Medicine 1992; 71:14-23.
28 CDC. Prevention of hepatitis A through active and passive immunization. MMWR 1999; 48(No. RR-12): 4.
29 Beller M. Hepatitis A outbreak in Anchorage, Alaska traced to ice slush beverages. West J Med 1992; 156:624-627.
30 Hollinger FB and Glombicki AP. Hepatitis A virus. In: Mandell GL et al, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 3rd ed., New York, NY: Churchill Livingston, 1990: 1383-1396.
31 CDC. Prevention of hepatitis A through active and passive immunization. MMWR 1999; 48(No. RR-12): 5
32, 33 American Academy of Pediatrics. Prevention of hepatitis A infections: guidelines for use of hepatitis A vaccine and immune globulin (RE9646). Pediatrics 1996; 98:1207-1215.
34 Staes C, Schlenker T, Risk I, et al. Source of infection among persons with acute hepatitis A and no identified risk factors, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1996. Clin Infect Dis 1997; 25:411.
35 American Academy of Pediatrics. Prevention of hepatitis A infections: guidelines for use of hepatitis A vaccine and immune globulin (RE9646). Pediatrics 1996; 98:1207-1215.
36 CDC. Prevention of hepatitis A through active or passive immunization. MMWR 1999; 48 (RR-12): 4
37 Dalton CB, Haddix A, Hoffman RE, Mast EE. The cost of a food-borne outbreak of hepatitis A in Denver, Colorado. Arch Intern Med 1996; 156:1013-6.
38 Marler Clark, LLP. “Seattle law firm obtains $1.06 million settlement on behalf of hepatitis outbreak victims.” Accessed @ www.marlerclark.com.
39 CDC. Prevention of hepatitis A through active and passive immunization. MMWR 1999; 48(No. RR-12): 5.
40 Jacobs J. “The cost effectiveness of childhood hepatitis A vaccination.” American Liver Foundation Meeting “Strategic Directions for Reducing Hepatitis A in High Endemic States”, St Louis, MO, June 10, 2000.
41 Favero MS, Bond WW. Disinfection and sterilization. In: Zuckerman AJ, Thomas HC, eds. Viral hepatitis, scientific basis and clinical management. New York, NY: Churchill Livingston, 1993: 565-75.
42, 43 Innis BL, Snitbhan R, Kunasol P, et al. Protection against hepatitis A by an inactivated vaccine. JAMA 1994; 271:1328-1334. Werzberger A, Mensch B, Kuter B, et al. A controlled trial of a formal in-inactivated hepatitis A vaccine in healthy children. N Engl J Med 1992; 327:453-457.
44 Wersberger A, Kuter B, Nalin D. Six years’ follow-up after hepatitis A vaccination (Letter). N Engl J Med 1998; 338:1160.
45 CDC. Prevention of hepatitis A through active and passive immunization. MMWR 1999; 48(No. RR-12): 25-30.
46 American Academy of Pediatrics. Prevention of hepatitis A infections: guidelines for use of hepatitis A vaccine and immune globulin (RE9646). Pediatrics 1996; 98:1207-1215.
47 American Academy of Pediatrics. Prevention of hepatitis A infections: guidelines for use of hepatitis A vaccine and immune globulin (RE9646). Pediatrics 1996; 98:1207-1215.
48 American Academy of Pediatrics. Prevention of hepatitis A infections: guidelines for use of hepatitis A vaccine and immune globulin (RE9646). Pediatrics 1996; 98:1207-1215.
49 NIH. Management of hepatitis C-NIH consensus statement, NIH Consensus Development Conference, March 24-25, 1997, Bethesda, Maryland. Accessed @ http://odp.od.nih.gov/consensus/cons/105.htm
Hepatitis C Testing
The Importance of Expanding Age Based Screening and Developing a Standard of Care for Individuals with Opioid Use Disorder
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force currently recommend one-time Hepatitis C virus (HCV) testing for people born between 1945 and 1965 (the Baby Boomer generation); additionally, there is a recommendation for testing in high-risk individuals (men having sex with men, people who inject drugs, etc.). However, recent trends in HCV infections throughout the country have revealed an increasing incidence among individuals aged 18 years and older, largely because of the ongoing opioid epidemic. The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration encourages screening for viral hepatitis in treatment facilities, but, as of yet, no standard of care recommendation exists. The results of recent studies highlight the need for an expansion of the recommendation for age-based HCV testing and the importance of incorporating HCV screening into Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) treatment.
The American Liver Foundation supports the expansion of age-based HCV testing to persons 18 years of age and older in addition to risk-based testing. According to a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, this expansion “appears to be cost-effective, leads to improved clinical outcomes and identified more persons with HCV than the current birth cohort recommendations” (Barocas, et al., 2018). Through identification of infected individuals early in disease progression, better individual health outcomes are possible with a reduction in long-term health care costs.
The American Liver Foundation urges formation of standard of care recommendations for individuals with OUD. An examination of the HCV care continuum in individuals with an OUD engaged in Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) was published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment (Brown, et al, 2017). This examination defined the HCV care continuum as beginning with antibody screening, followed by determination of active infection through viral load measurement, ultimately resulting in an endpoint of HCV treatment. This study identified gaps in this care continuum in people with OUD on MAT. The authors urge the importance of developing interventions to increase HCV testing, communicating HCV diagnosis and treatment information to patients, and linking individuals to appropriate medical care, specifically amid this population.
Further evidence of the importance of such interventions was reported by Dr. Preidt and colleagues. They found changes in the efficacy of opioid abuse therapy if patients are screened for HCV as part of the program. The “study showed awareness of HCV infection among this particular population may motivate them to reduce their consumption and hopefully high-risk behavior” (Preidt, 2017). After a year of tracking 2,400 patients from 43 addiction treatment clinics, researchers noted those who tested positive for HCV “were 33% more likely to significantly reduce their use of non-prescribed opioids, benzodiazepines and cocaine than those who tested negative” (Preidt, 2017). By capitalizing on existing points of care, such as a detoxification center, medication assisted treatment program, or long-term recovery center, it may be possible to not only identify more individuals with HCV but also improve outcomes related to OUD.
Barocas, J. A., Tasillo, A., Eftekhari Yazdi, G., Wang, J., Vellozzi, C., Hariri, S., . . . Linas, B. P. (2018). Population level outcomes and cost-effectiveness of expanding the recommendation for age-based hepatitis C testing in the United States. [Abstract]. Clinical Infectious Disease, 66(9). doi:10.1093/cid/ciy098
Brown, J. L., Fause, N. K., Lewis, D., & Winhusen, T. (2017). Examination of the Hepatitis C Virus care continuum among individuals with an opioid use disorder in substance use treatment [Abstract]. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 76, 77-80. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsat.2017.01.017
Preidt, R. (2017, October 20). Hepatitis C Screening May Boost Opioid Treatment Success. Retrieved April 19, 2018, from https://health.usnews.com/health-care/articles/2017-10-20/hepatitis-c-screening-may-boost-opioid-treatment-success
Recommendations for the prevention and control of viral Hepatitis among incarcerated persons
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Consultants Meeting to Develop Recommendations for the Prevention and Control of Viral Hepatitis Among Incarcerated Persons
All individuals with chronic hepatitis, including those who are incarcerated, need access to immunization, testing and, when appropriate, treatment. Given the high prevalence of chronic hepatitis B and C, and the potential risk for acute hepatitis A and B infection, in incarcerated populations, we support the following principles:
Education and Counseling
Educational programs within correctional systems should permit incarcerated persons to:
- Assess their risk for viral hepatitis (e.g. utilizing a health risk assessment tool);
- Learn about the ways in which to prevent infection by avoiding high-risk behaviors;
- Appreciate the availability of vaccines for hepatitis A and B;
- Receive information in multiple languages, and in a manner that accommodates different levels of literacy, and is sensitive to cultural and ethnic differences.
Testing for hepatitis B and C should be available within correctional systems on a routine basis or for persons for whom it is indicated.
When it is medically advisable, treatment for chronic hepatitis B or C should be made available within the prison system. Ongoing medical care should be made available for all incarcerated persons who decline or are ineligible for treatment.
Hepatitis A and B vaccines should be provided for all persons with chronic hepatitis C.
Hepatitis A vaccine should be made available for all incarcerated persons with chronic hepatitis B or any other form of chronic liver disease.
Due to the fact that incarcerated persons are at risk for viral hepatitis, vaccination for hepatitis A and B should be encouraged within correctional systems.
American Liver Foundation position on needle exchange
- WHEREAS injection drug users that share needles are at increased risk of contracting hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV; and
- WHEREAS HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C are devastating diseases and can be transmitted to sexual partners and unborn children; and
- WHEREAS the National Academy of Sciences, through the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, has stated that needle exchange programs are part of a comprehensive strategy to decrease the transmission of blood-borne pathogens including hepatitis and HIV:
- THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that ALF supports and encourages the development and analysis of needle exchange programs for the express purpose of decreasing transmission of HIV, hepatitis and other blood-borne pathogens and as part of comprehensive hepatitis and HIV prevention activities that include programs directed at preventing and treating drug use
The American Liver Foundation meets all requirements of the National Health Council Standards of Excellence Certification Program® and is in full compliance.
Regarding organ donation benefits, the American Liver Foundation resolves that:
- Organs should not be bought or sold;
- Donation of organs should not be a financial burden to family or donors;
- Financial or logistical obstacles should be minimized to the extent possible for organ donations made voluntarily by families or donors;
- Accommodations to achieve the above should be referred to as “Donation Benefits,” rather than termed as “inducements” or “incentives;”
- Policy makers should focus attention to considerations or benefits to donors that will increase the rates of donation and be equitable across society; and
- The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) should define by regulation the meaning of “valuable consideration” per the National Organ Transplant Act and be empowered to authorize demonstration projects aimed at increasing organ donation rates applying the concept of valuable consideration but not the trafficking of human organs.
Regarding organ donation consent, the American Liver Foundation resolves that:
- Policy makers need to actively explore different models of consent for organ donation, including presumed consent, and determine what model more effectively increases the level of donation consistent with societal values;
- In making such a determination, due regard should be given to the medical, legal, ethical and psycho-social implications of the different models;
- Education and outreach requirements of these different models need to be considered; and physicians seeking consent of family members of individuals who have not made their organ decisions become familiar with
- The need for donated organs
- The care of grieving families
- The proper medical/social screening of potential donors
- The decision making process and the tools to influence it;
- Demonstration projects evaluating the potential impact of different consent models on organ donation need to be supported by the private and/or public sectors; and
- The American Liver Foundation will identify steps to promote this resolution.
The American Liver Foundation supports the responsible and humane use of animals in research. Animal research has yielded crucial advances in the fight against liver disease, and ALF is committed to facilitating current research of exceptional promise. Researchers, funded by ALF, must have their studies approved by their Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), and must conduct all research in compliance with the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.
- WHEREAS, the hepatitis A virus (HAV) is hardy and continuously reintroduced into the US;
- WHEREAS, that HAV is an important illness, the scope of which has been underestimated;
- WHEREAS, that outbreaks of HAV are still a threat that take a toll on all Americans;
- WHEREAS, the incidence of hepatitis A is more common than hepatitis B or hepatitis C;
- WHEREAS, incidence of hepatitis A goes beyond well-defined risk groups (e.g., people with chronic liver disease, travelers, men who have sex with men);
- WHEREAS, hepatitis A is estimated to infect some 35,000 people a year;
- WHEREAS, hepatitis A hospitalizes some 22% of those adults infected, an estimated 100 of whom die annually;
- WHEREAS, children are a reservoir for hepatitis A infection and represent the single most important point of intervention in the effort to eliminate the transmission of the disease
- WHEREAS, routine HAV vaccination of children to eliminate community-wide HAV is a tactic that both works and is cost effective;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY AMERICAN LIVER FOUNDATION THAT:
- Education efforts should be increased to underscore the urgency of hepatitis A vaccination to at-risk groups (e.g., people with chronic liver disease, travelers, men who have sex with men);
- Policy makers should make hepatitis A vaccination universal for children nationwide;
- Education and advocacy should be pursued at the federal and state level to accomplish this;
- The American Liver Foundation will identify steps to promote this resolution.
The American Liver Foundation respects the privacy of its constituents and is committed to protecting the information shared with the organization by supporters and donors. You will be asked to provide your contact information when requesting additional information, making a donation, or volunteer to be added to the organization’s contact list. Personal information provided is used solely by the American Liver Foundation, which does not give, sell, or share this information with any outside parties. This policy applies to information received via online sources as well as information received in any other manner.
The American Liver Foundation Web site has industry standard high encryption security measures in place to protect the loss, misuse and alteration of the information under our control. The organization makes every effort to protect your online donation and order information by using Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol. This protocol is an industry standard designed to protect the privacy of information communicated over the Internet.
The American Liver Foundation will discontinue contact with any person, company, or entity upon written request from the person or a party authorized to make such a request. Written requests can be sent to 39 Broadway, Suite 2700, New York, NY 10006 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The American Liver Foundation (ALF) is proud of the commitment and integrity of its staff, interns and volunteers, whose loyalty and professionalism constitute the fundamentals of our success.
The ALF is constantly observed by the general public, donors, supporters, watchdog agencies, and governmental authorities, and must adhere to the highest legal and ethical standards at all times. Even the appearance of improper conduct can result in great harm to the Foundation’s reputation and to the cause and the people we serve.
To assist in monitoring and assuring compliance with legal and ethical standards, we have prepared guidelines and procedures relating to:
- Conflicts of Interest Policy [pgs. 2, 3]
- Confidential and Proprietary Information Policy [p 4]
The standards incorporated here reflect legal and ethical requirements common to all organizations that serve a public purpose. To insure the effectiveness and reputation of the ALF, all staff, interns and volunteers must understand and follow these guidelines and procedures. Failure to observe these essential standards and practices may result in disciplinary measures, up to and including termination and legal action.
The purpose of this Whistleblower Policy is to encourage employees, without fear of retaliation, to raise concerns in good faith regarding suspected or known unlawful, unethical and/or improper conduct so that the Foundation can address and correct any conduct it determines to be illegal, unethical or improper, and take all other appropriate measures.
Last Updated on May 4, 2022
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