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Tom N
16 OCTOBER 2017

News from the American Liver Foundation


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, new HCV infections in the United States nearly tripled between the years 2010 and 2015 with the highest rates among young people, mainly 20- to 29-years old who inject drugsCDC researchers found seven states have rates at least twice the national average—including Maine and Massachusetts.  To address this emerging problem, the American Liver Foundation’s New England Division organized two conferences—one in Maine and one in Massachusetts.

“The American Liver Foundation held these conferences with the aim of addressing the emerging trends between the opioid epidemic and hepatitis C.  With the knowledge that it is only through a holistic, compassionate, and collaborative approach that we will be able to meet the needs of our communities, we invited providers in areas of both substance abuse and medical services,” said Lindsay Ventura, the Division’s Community Outreach and Education Manager.  She continued, “The goal of these conferences was to provide health care practitioners throughout Maine and Massachusetts with updated information regarding these issues in the hopes of working together to improve the landscape of care for those in need.”

The Maine Opioid Conference: Discussing the Intersection of Overdose, Opioid Use Disorder and Hepatitis C in Maine was held on September 6th in Portland, Maine.  For this conference, the New England Division partnered with the City of Portland Department of Health.

Approximately 65 individuals attended this conference and, to expand the reach, the Division partnered with WMTW, the Portland Maine ABC Affiliate, to develop PSAs, two independent news segments interviewing conference speakers, and creating content for the state-specific portion of the nationally aired State of Addiction news segment.

There were a number of distinguished speakers: John W. Martel, MD, PhD, FACEP, Tufts University School of Medicine, Maine Medical Center; Kinna Thakarar, DO, MPH, Maine Medical Center/TUSM, InterMed Infectious Disease; Shawn Peterson and Anna McConnell, The Portland Needle Exchange Program; Cameron Bonney, MD, Maine Medical Center; and Scott Gagnon, MPP, PS-C, AdCare.

The HCV patient perspective was represented by Sarah Farrugia, in recovery, infected with HCV; Christine Purington, treated 9 times with interferon, cured with new Direct Acting Antivirals; and Lindsay Ventura, contracted at birth, successfully treated with interferon/ribavirin.

On October 2nd, the Division partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Infectious Disease and Bureau for Substance Abuse Services and AdCare to present the Massachusetts Opioid Conference: Discussing the Intersection of Overdose, Opioid Use Disorder, and Hepatitis C in Young Adults.

Speakers included: Sarah C. Ruiz, MSW, Bureau of Substance Abuse Services, Massachusetts Department of Public Health; Kevin Cranston, MDiv, Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Science, Massachusetts Department of Public Health; Hilary S. Connery, MD, Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse, McClean Hospital; Arthur Kim, MD, Viral Hepatitis Clinic (Infectious Disease), Massachusetts General Hospital; James Morrill, MD, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital; Camilla Graham, MD, MPH, TREK Therapeutics, Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Approximately 110 individuals attended this conference.  Letters regarding this conference co-signed by ALF and Daniel Pratt, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital, Chairperson of the Division’s Medical Advisory Committee were sent to the Governor, Mayor, and local Senator’s offices with positive responses from all.  Additionally, an ALF representative met with Governor Baker’s policy director, Elizabeth Mahoney, to discuss these efforts.



Tom Nealon
National Board Chair & CEO
American Liver Foundation

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