2009 News Archive


December 2009 - Remarks by President Obama at AAPI Initiative Executive Order Signing and Diwali Event
Jeff Caballero, NVHR Vice Chair and AAPCHO Executive Director, was in attendance when the President signed an executive order re-establishing a federal-wide Initiative to focus on the needs and concerns of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.  You can see photos on AAPCHO's Facebook Fan Page or watch the video.

December 2009—HCV Rapid Oral Test
OraSure has entered into agreements with Merck & Co. (through its predecessor Schering Plough Corporation) to collaborate on the development and promotion of the OraQuick(R) HCV test. Under the terms of these agreements, the Company has been and will be reimbursed by Merck for a portion of its costs to develop the test and obtain regulatory approvals. Additionally, Merck will provide promotional support, including detailing the test in the physicians' office market worldwide.” For more information on the “Oral-fluid testing solutions provider OraSure Technologies Inc and the receipt of the CE mark for the company's OraQuick Rapid HCV Antibody Test to diagnose people with HCV infection read the following article: OraSure Technologies Receives CE Mark for OraQuick(R) Rapid HCV Antibody Test First and Only Oral Fluid Rapid HCV Test Bearing a CE Mark.
December 2009—CalHEP Offers Congressman Hank Johnson Support & Encouragement as He Battles Chronic Hepatitis C Virus
Congressman Hank Johnson (D.Ga) announcement that he is undergoing treatment for chronic hepatitis C virus. Congressman Johnson is believed to be the first sitting Member of Congress to acknowledge he is afflicted with chronic hepatitis C virus. Lorren Sandt, chair of the National Virus Hepatitis Roundtable and member of CalHEP’s Advisory Committee, said that "NVHR and the entire viral hepatitis community offer Congressman Johnson our support and encouragement as he battles chronic hepatitis C virus," In choosing to disclose his condition, Congressman Johnson is helping to propel chronic viral hepatitis to the forefront of our nation's public-health agenda.  We are hopeful that Congressman Johnson's announcement will help spur greater awareness about the need for increased prevention, detection, and treatment of chronic viral hepatitis B and C." Read the press release.
October 2009—Baker Overcomes Access Barrier for Liver Transplant
Fifty-four-year-old Spencer Baker is battling hepatitis C. But now with a new liver, he’s got a fighting chance.
      Diagnosed with hepatitis C and terminal liver disease in 2004, Baker completed a rehabilitation course on the island of Maui where he lived. At the urging of his providers, he moved to the mainland to seek further treatment.
      Baker arrived in Sacramento in 2006 to find that both UCSF and UC Davis were “hotbeds for transplants.” But he ran into a wall. His physicians weren’t forthcoming with information or help about a liver transplant, Baker said. He sensed a lack of support for treating recovering alcoholics and drug addicts—he felt the slap of stigma.
     Everything changed when he met Leslie Benson, CalHEP chair and founder and executive director of Education for Healthy Choices, which provides evidence-based education on viral hepatitis in the Sacramento area. She referred Baker to UC Davis. Within two years, he became one of the last people to have a liver transplant there before the medical center stopped performing them.
     “There I was knowing nobody in Sacramento, and then I was talking to the head of hepatology at UC Davis,” Baker recalled. “And I’m going ‘Yeehaw!’ ”
     Four and a half months into treatment for hepatitis C, Baker’s doctors at UC Davis discovered cancer in his liver. That moved him to the head of the transplant list, and he received a new liver this past January.
     Baker’s future remains uncertain, but he’s optimistic that by January 2010 he’ll be able to restart treatment and clear hepatitis C from his system. In the meantime, he volunteers at Education for Healthy Choices as frequently as his recovery allows.
October 2009—CalHEP Representatives Attend CAADAC Conference
CalHEP Chair Leslie Benson, CalHEP policy consultant Glenn Backes, and C.N. Gordon from HELP & Education for Liver Patients (HELP!), a CalHEP member, represented CalHEP at the annual conference of the California Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (CAADAC) held October 1-4, at the Rancho Cordova Marriott near Sacramento. The conference theme, “Moving Beyond Tolerance: Creating a Multiculturally Competent Addiction Workforce,” parallels CalHEP’s recognition of the need to competently address cultural diversity among those affected by viral hepatitis. Feedback from attendees unanimously favored CalHEP’s presence at the conference.  
October 2009—CalHEP Urges Congress to Support $20 Million for Viral Hepatitis Prevention
CalHEP joined organizations from throughout California and across the country in urging Congress to support $20.1 million in funding for viral hepatitis prevention in the FY2010 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill. In letters to leaders of the House of Representatives and Senate, the 120-plus signatories acknowledged that the $20.1 million falls short of the $50 million need identified by the viral hepatitis community. They argued, however, that it represents an important first step in restoring the CDC’s viral hepatitis program to its FY2001 funding level of $25 million. View the letters to Senate and House leaders.
October 2009—Liver Awareness Month: ALF Launches ‘Love Your Liver’ Youth Program
You may know that liver disease affects one out of every 10, or approximately 30 million Americans. But did you know that more than 6 million children in the United States have a condition called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease? This buildup of fat in the liver cells can cause inflammation that can lead to liver damage or, even, liver failure. But if detected early, it can be treated in many cases through diet and exercise. To bring attention to this disease as part of Liver Awareness Month, the American Liver Foundation has launched an interactive youth education program called “Love Your Liver.” To learn more about this program and how to make it a part of your school’s curriculum, contact the executive director in your local ALF chapter. Find your chapter at: http://www.liverfoundation.org.
September 2009—CalHEP, NVHR Urge Congress to Pass Hepatitis Act
CalHEP staffers teamed up with representatives from the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable (NVHR) on Sept. 8, to urge California representatives to support the Viral Hepatitis and Liver Cancer Control and Prevention Act, which is expected to be introduced in the House this October by Reps. Mike Honda (D-CA) and Charlie Dent (R-PA). The Act calls for amending the Public Health Service Act to establish, promote, and support a comprehensive prevention, research, and medical management referral program for chronic hepatitis B and chronic hepatitis C virus infection. CalHEP visited Reps. Howard Berman (D-San Fernando), Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento), and Zoe Lofgren (D-Santa Clara), as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco). Click here to read a summary of the Act’s key provisions.
September 2009—Experts Coordinate National Response to Hepatitis
CalHEP staff and consultants joined viral hepatitis experts from across the country on Sept. 10 and 11 at a national forum convened in Washington, DC, to develop a coordinated national response to chronic viral hepatitis through improved prevention, detection, and patient care. “The Dawn of a New Era: Transforming Our Domestic Response to Hepatitis B & C” brought representatives from the entire spectrum of constituencies involved in the prevention of infection and the care of patients with viral hepatitis in order to articulate the need for a coordinated national strategic plan for chronic hepatitis B & C. “The conference provided a unique opportunity for the advocacy, scientific, and patient care worlds to come together to develop an effective strategy for combating the viral hepatitis epidemics,” said Michele Peterson, CalHEP project manager and associate director of community health programs for the Project Inform. CalHEP will make available an executive summary and other meeting materials to members when conference organizers release them in the next couple of weeks.
August 2009—Genes Cited in Effectiveness of Hep C Treatment
Researchers at Duke University reported in mid-August that the variation in effectiveness of the standard treatment for hepatitis C is probably due more to genetics than to differing levels of compliance or access to health care. The 48-week course of the antiviral drugs interferon and ribavirin has been shown to be much more successful in Americans of European descent than in African-Americans. Read the August 16 report in The New York Times, “Genes Tied to Gap in Treatment of Hepatitis C.”
August 2009—Gov. Eliminates HCV Testing, Guts AIDS Budget
Using his line-item veto on the budget approved by California’s Legislature, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger blue-penciled more than $52 million in general funds support to AIDS programs, cutting HIV prevention and testing efforts, HCV testing within many HIV programs, and health services for people living with HIV and AIDS. CalHEP supports its member organizations’ advocacy efforts to restore the funds.
August 2009—CalHEP Urges Senators to Fight for Hepatitis in Reform
As Congress moved closer to finalizing its plans for health care reform, CalHEP member organizations sent letters to Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer encouraging them to meet the health care needs of people living with chronic hepatitis B and C, HIV, and other chronic diseases. We ask that they fight for these provisions within any health care reform legislation:
  • Expanded Medicaid coverage for all low-income people, including childless adults, and eliminating requirements that tie Medicaid to disability status. People with chronic viral hepatitis should qualify for care and treatment to prevent liver damage and disability;
  • A strong public plan option that would provide affordable health care access for people with viral hepatitis and other chronic conditions. The public plan should set a national standard for affordable coverage with predictable health protection and no denial of benefits based on pre-existing conditions.
CalHEP signed the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable’s (NVHR) health care reform letter along with 60 other organizations.
July 2009—Gov. Supports National Health Care Reform
On July 31, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sent a letter to congressional leaders reiterating his vision and support for health care reform and sharing concerns he has with some of the proposals. The governor shared his thoughts on cost containment and affordability; prevention, wellness, and health quality; and coverage for all. Read the letter.
July 2009—AHF: ‘Governor “Terminator” Kills AIDS Program’
In a July 28 statement, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) called Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “dismantling of California’s Lifesaving HIV/AIDS Prevention, Testing, Housing and Treatment Services a 'Heartless Act.' " AHF went on to warn that deadly cuts to the budget by the governor “will cripple HIV testing and prevention efforts, endanger public health, and cost California taxpayers infinitely more in the future." Read the press release.
July 2009—KPBS: 'Behind the Story: Hepatitis C and Needle Exchange'
On this July 10 edition of the television show "The Reporters," reporter Kenny Goldberg tells host Gloria Penner about his reporting on the rise in hepatitis C and the difficulty in implementing clean needle exchange programs at the local level. (9 minutes)
July 2009—Panel Drops Ban on Needle-Exchange Funds
According to a July 10 report by CQ Politics, the House Appropriations Subcommittee endorsed a massive fiscal 2010 spending bill for labor, health, and education programs that omits a longstanding ban on funding for needle-exchange programs.
July 2009—KPBS: Hepatitis C & IV Drug Users
This July 6 report by KPBS on hepatitis C and intravenous drug users notes that millions of Americans are infected with this disease that is the number-one cause of liver cancer and liver transplants. This four-part series takes a look at hepatitis C and the different approaches used by San Diego and New York to battle the virus.

May 2009—Assembly Passes Hepatitis Awareness Day Resolution
Assemblyman SamBlakeslee’s (R-San Luis Obispo) resolution naming May 19, 2009,Hepatitis Awareness Day passed off the Assembly Floor. The resolutionnotes the importance of hepatitis awareness education campaigns, andaccessible screening for hepatitis B and C. In addition, the resolutionadvocates that appropriate treatment can reduce the incidence ofhepatitis B and C viral infections on an individual and community levelwhich decrease the financial, physical, and emotional damages incurredby this virus. Earlier this year, Edie Kahn and David Kilburn,representatives from the SLO Hep C Project, discussed viral hepatitis inthe state of California with Blakeslee. Following this meeting,Blakeslee introduced ACR 35, recognizing May 19, 2009, as HepatitisAwareness Day.
March 2009—Gov. Picks CalHEP’s Lawford forAdvisory Board
In March, GovernorArnold Schwarzenegger appointed Christopher Kennedy Lawford—CaliforniaHepatitis Alliance’s honorary steering committee chair—to California’sPublic Health Advisory Committee. In the unsalaried position, Lawford,together with other committee members, provides advice andrecommendations to the state’s director of public health on programs andpolicies to improve the health and safety of Californians and helpsidentify strategies to improve public health program effectiveness anddefine emerging public health issues. In addition to serving on CalHEP’ssteering committee, Lawford is a national spokesperson for theHepatitis C Public Awareness Campaign for Roche Pharmaceuticals. Lawfordhas worked extensively in politics, government, and the nonprofitsector in addition to spending 20 years in the film and televisionbusiness as an actor, executive, and producer.