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CalHEP News

[BLOG POST] Great recent coverage of efforts to tackle hepatitis C in California!

These last two weeks there has been great news coverage highlighting the amazing work happening in California to address hepatitis C, featuring CalHEP member organizations, partners, and friends. With cures in hand, a major city tries to eliminate hepatitis C — and build a model for others  There’s a Cure for Hepatitis C. Why Are … Continue reading “[BLOG POST] Great recent coverage of efforts to tackle hepatitis C in California!”

These last two weeks there has been great news coverage highlighting the amazing work happening in California to address hepatitis C, featuring CalHEP member organizations, partners, and friends.
Very inspiring work by a bunch of heroes!

[BLOG POST] Honoring Some CalHEP Heroes!

The California Hepatitis Alliance, also known as CalHEP, is a coalition of nearly 100 organizations dedicated to reducing the scope and consequences of hepatitis B and hepatitis C in California. Every year CalHEP recognizes individuals who have contributed to its mission. This year we were pleased to honor four outstanding individuals on November 11, 2017. … Continue reading “[BLOG POST] Honoring Some CalHEP Heroes!”

The California Hepatitis Alliance, also known as CalHEP, is a coalition of nearly 100 organizations dedicated to reducing the scope and consequences of hepatitis B and hepatitis C in California.

Every year CalHEP recognizes individuals who have contributed to its mission. This year we were pleased to honor four outstanding individuals on November 11, 2017.

(from L to R: Brandie Wilson, Katie Burk, Emalie Huriaux, Annie Luetkemeyer, Christian Ramers)

First, the Sherri Ziegler Community Service Award. Sherry R. Ziegler worked tirelessly to advocate in Sacramento and Washington, DC for those with hepatitis B and C in need of support and services, especially in rural northern California, and she was a co-founder of CalHEP. The award in her name is presented to an individual who has exhibited outstanding leadership in addressing viral hepatitis in California through advocacy, education, and/or direct services.

This year’s awardee, Brandie Wilson, is the founder and director of the Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction, which provides syringe access and disposal services, as well as other services to meet the needs of people who use drugs. Through engagement with program volunteers and peers, and identifying leadership qualities among these networks, Ms. Wilson promotes leadership as part of a strategy to interrupt the spread of hepatitis C. She has managed to develop a thriving organization serving some of Humboldt County’s most marginalized and stigmatized residents, despite threats from neighbors and local politicians.

Next, the Clinical Champion Award. This award is presented to a healthcare provider who has exhibited outstanding leadership in addressing viral hepatitis in California through the provision of clinical services and advocacy on behalf of their patients/clients.

This year we had two nominees that rose to the top and they are both so outstanding that the awards selection committee could not choose between them and decided to have co-awardees, Drs. Annie Luetkemeyer and Christian Ramers. Both are passionate physicians, researchers, and educators working to improve the response to viral hepatitis in California and beyond.

Dr. Luetkemeyer is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of California San Francisco and clinician at the Positive Health Program at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, where she has treated and cured hepatitis C in hundreds of patients living with HIV because she knew they would not get access to treatment if she did not treat them herself. Dr. Luetkemeyer was a driving force in the creation of End Hep C SF, the first citywide initiative to eliminate hepatitis C in the United States.

In his role as Assistant Medical Director for Research & Special Populations, Dr. Ramers is the primary provider of hepatitis and HIV services at Family Health Centers of San Diego. Dr. Ramers championed development of a robust hepatitis C treatment program. He implemented rapid hepatitis C point-of-care testing and linkages to care in several of Family Health Centers’ 23 clinic sites and at 70 substance use treatment programs. Through his direct leadership, hundreds of Family Health Centers’ patients have successfully completed hepatitis C treatment and been cured.

Lastly, the Government Champion Award. This award is presented to someone working in federal, state, or local government who has exhibited outstanding leadership in addressing viral hepatitis in California.

This year’s recipient, Katie Burk, is the Viral Hepatitis Coordinator at the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Katie has taken a leadership role to help expand the Department’s response to hepatitis C. She is a co-founder of End Hep C SF, the first hepatitis C elimination initiative in any U.S. city. She created the first robust hepatitis C testing and linkage to care programs in San Francisco; worked with community partner Glide to launch the “New Treatments Have Changed the Game” hepatitis C social marketing campaign; supported primary care provider leaders to launch the Department’s initiative to treat hepatitis C in primary care; sits on the Governing Council of SF Hep B Free, and more. Her efforts within local government are a model for other jurisdictions working to address viral hepatitis.

[WEBINAR] How Can We Address Rising Rates of Hep C Among California’s Youth? (archived)

On August 21, 2017, CalHEP, Project Inform, and the California Department of Public Health co-hosted a webinar, “How Can We Address Rising Rates of Hepatitis C Among California’s Youth?” The archived webinar (audio and slides) is now available online at https://youtu.be/-Kv0O5vFb4A

On August 21, 2017, CalHEP, Project Inform, and the California Department of Public Health co-hosted a webinar, “How Can We Address Rising Rates of Hepatitis C Among California’s Youth?”

The archived webinar (audio and slides) is now available online at https://youtu.be/-Kv0O5vFb4A

The Opioid Crisis & Related Public Health Issues in the Rural Northern Counties: A Summit to Discuss Solutions

This two-day Summit, February 5 & 6, will focus on the opioid crisis and related public health issues in rural northern California. Topics will include hepatitis C, HIV and STDs, and overdose, as well as other public health issues related to the opioid crisis. Participants will discuss existing resources and challenges to address these public … Continue reading “The Opioid Crisis & Related Public Health Issues in the Rural Northern Counties: A Summit to Discuss Solutions”

This two-day Summit, February 5 & 6, will focus on the opioid crisis and related public health issues in rural northern California. Topics will include hepatitis C, HIV and STDs, and overdose, as well as other public health issues related to the opioid crisis. Participants will discuss existing resources and challenges to address these public health issues, models from the region that are working well to address these issues, and identify some realistic steps to overcome the challenges that exist. The draft agenda is here. Please note that day one will have an emphasis on hepatitis C, HIV, STDs, engagement of people who use opioids, and related issues, while the focus of day two will largely be on overdose education and naloxone distribution and increasing efforts to prevent non-fatal and fatal opioid overdose in the region.

 

The Summit objectives are:

  1. To encourage the sharing of best practices among providers in the region;
  2. To facilitate networking among providers working related to the opioid crisis in the region; and
  3. To summarize local provider recommendations for responding to the opioid crisis and related public health issues in the rural northern counties

 

 

For more information and to register, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-opioid-crisis-related-public-health-issues-in-the-rural-northern-counties-a-summit-to-discuss-tickets-39299463754

 

 

 

 

 

 

Congratulations to the 2017 CalHEP Awardees & Nominees

This is an extremely difficult time for California and for our country for a number of reasons, so it is with extra pleasure that the California Hepatitis Alliance announces our 2017 CalHEP Awardees and Nominees for the Sherri Ziegler Community Service Award, the Clinical Champion Award, and the Government Champion Award! The Awardees will be … Continue reading “Congratulations to the 2017 CalHEP Awardees & Nominees”

This is an extremely difficult time for California and for our country for a number of reasons, so it is with extra pleasure that the California Hepatitis Alliance announces our 2017 CalHEP Awardees and Nominees for the Sherri Ziegler Community Service Award, the Clinical Champion Award, and the Government Champion Award! The Awardees will be honored at Evening of Hope, on November 11th.

The selection committee had a challenging task because all of the nominees are well deserving of recognition and doing amazing things to address the viral hepatitis epidemics in California. The committee was so impressed by everyone nominated. We thank each of them for their ongoing service and commitment to ending hepatitis B and C in California and beyond!

 

The Sherri Ziegler Community Service Award

Awardee: Brandie Wilson, Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction

Honorable mentions:
Paris de la Rosa & Daniela Mieja, Access Support Network

Pauli Gray, San Francisco AIDS Foundation
Paul Harkin, Glide
Robin Roth, San Francisco Hepatitis C Task Force
Michael Wilk, Health Right 360

Established in 2009 in honor of the late Sherri R. Ziegler, a founding member of CalHEP, the award reflects her dedication to fighting hepatitis B and C. Sherri worked tirelessly to advocate in Sacramento and Washington, DC for those in need of support and services, especially in rural northern California. She loved to travel with her message of hope for people who, like her, were affected by hepatitis C. Sherri also mentored countless advocates all over the rural north. She always had a positive attitude even when she faced obstacles that would overwhelm most people. Along with her advocacy efforts, Sherri provided education, support, and other services for people with hepatitis C in her community. She was an invaluable resource to the Peach Tree Clinic, the Sutter, Yuba, and Butte County Health Departments, and advocacy groups in Shasta and Plumas Counties. This award is presented to an individual who has exhibited outstanding leadership in addressing viral hepatitis in California through advocacy, education, and/or direct services.  Nominations are encouraged for individuals who are leaders in the hepatitis B and/or hepatitis C communities. Previous award recipients include Leslie Benson (2010), Orlando Chavez (2011), Koy Parada & Mimi Chang (2012), and Shirley Barger (2016).

 

The Clinical Champion Award

Co-Awardees: Annie Luetkemeyer, MD, University of California San Francisco; Christian Ramers, MD, MPH, Family Health Centers of San Diego

Honorable mentions:
Kyle Barbour, MD pending
Andrew Desruisseau, MD
Betty Dong, PharmD
Jeff Klausner, MD, MPH

Established in 2016, the Clinical Champion award is presented to a healthcare provider (e.g., MD, DO, NP, PA, RN, PharmD, PsyD, MFT, LCSW) who has exhibited outstanding leadership in addressing viral hepatitis in California through the provision of clinical services and advocacy on behalf of their patients/clients. The previous award recipient was Dr. Catherine Moizeau.

 

The Government Champion Award

Awardee: Katie Burk, MPH, San Francisco Department of Public Health

Established in 2016, the Government Champion award is presented to someone working in federal, state, or local government (e.g., elected officials, government appointees, government employees) who has exhibited outstanding leadership in addressing viral hepatitis in California. The previous award recipient was Rachel McLean, MPH.

[BLOG POST] Hepatitis A Outbreaks in California

As you are likely aware, there have been notable outbreaks of hepatitis A in California (in San Diego and Santa Cruz Counties), as well as in other parts of the country. Officials just declared a hepatitis A outbreak in Los Angeles County, as well.   Click here for an update from San Diego County on … Continue reading “[BLOG POST] Hepatitis A Outbreaks in California”

 

  • Click here for an update from San Diego County on the outbreak they have been dealing with, which has been linked to over 15 deaths, many of which occurred in individuals with underlying liver disease, including disease caused by hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

 

  • These outbreaks are largely affecting people who are homeless and people who inject drugs. It is imperative that people who are at risk for hep A who are not vaccinated receive vaccine as soon as possible. If your program is not doing it already, please consider strategies for helping to provide hep A vaccine onsite and/or link people to vaccination services. Also, a good opportunity to make sure people are vaccinated against hepatitis B at the same time. Here is info from the California Department of Public Health about the initial outbreaks, who should be vaccinated, and resources for vaccination.

 

  • In San Diego, for example, the county is working with Family Health Centers of San Diego (a CalHEP member) to reach out to individuals who are homeless and people who inject drugs to provide vaccine.

 

  • Providing hand sanitizer may help prevent hep A, as well, but of course is no substitute for good old soap and water.

 

  • The structural issue that is difficult to respond to is the lack of safe hygienic places for people to use the toilet and wash their hands, which is, of course, tied to larger structural issues of poverty, displacement, inequity, and our collective failure as a state and country to support people who are homeless and institute long-term solutions to end homelessness.

 

  • It is likely we will see other hep A outbreaks in the state in the near future, but let’s hope there are lessons learned from the locations that are dealing with these outbreaks so the response is quicker and stronger.

[BLOG POST] We Matter! Harm Reduction & the Move for Safe Consumption Services in Rural California

by Brandie Wilson, Executive Director/Founder, Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction Rural counties in the United States have been hit hard by the recent opioid crisis and related health issues like overdose, hepatitis C, and HIV. Humboldt County, where the Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction (HACHR) operates, is no different. We have the highest … Continue reading “[BLOG POST] We Matter! Harm Reduction & the Move for Safe Consumption Services in Rural California”

by Brandie Wilson, Executive Director/Founder, Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction

Rural counties in the United States have been hit hard by the recent opioid crisis and related health issues like overdose, hepatitis C, and HIV. Humboldt County, where the Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction (HACHR) operates, is no different. We have the highest case reports of hepatitis C in California, and some of the highest rates of overdose in the state.  HACHR operates in Eureka, a city of 27,000 people. However, due to our extremely rural location, we not only serve Eurekans, but people from the surrounding area, including broader Humboldt County, Del Norte, Shasta, and Trinity Counties, and southern Oregon, due to the lack of harm reduction services in these rural communities.

This is the second year HACHR has provided syringe exchange and overdose prevention services. We also conduct community education, anti-stigma work, safer drug using classes, and hepatitis C education. We provide our services through outreach and at our drop-in center. At the drop-in center, we host a range of services in collaboration with other providers, such as HIV and hepatitis C testing, mental health services, and medical case management. We began our work just like many before us, because of the loss of friends and loved ones and the desire to prevent more deaths. We are a community-based organization that relies on consumer engagement and we have found great success organizing this way. Many of our consumers and volunteers take great pride and a sense of ownership participating in HACHR activities and we strive to strengthen our relationships daily.

The historical lack of information and support in Humboldt County regarding hepatitis C and overdose exacerbates our already alarming numbers. Our health crisis is embedded in larger systemic issues of incarcerating people who use drugs and “abstinence only” drug treatment models.  We work tirelessly to combat these archaic and degrading approaches and to educate the public and policy makers about evidence-based harm reduction practices.

Much of the harm reduction conversation in the United States focuses on metropolitan areas as they have the highest concentration of people. However, we are four hours deep into the redwoods and worlds away from any large city. Our remoteness requires us to innovate.  Many times, we are able to take programs that are implemented in metropolitan areas and modify them to fit our rural landscape and culture.

The introduction of Assembly Bill (AB) 186 by Assemblymember Eggman (D-Stockton), the safe consumption services (SCS) bill presently being heard in the state legislature, has presented us another great opportunity for rural innovation. We have deep gratitude to our state Assemblymember, Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg), Chair of the Assembly Health Committee, for supporting AB 186 and ensuring that Humboldt County was included as one of the eight counties listed in the bill that could authorize SCS if the bill becomes law.  He  recently visited HACHR, toured our facility, and engaged in a great discussion with us about the role HACHR plays in efforts in Humboldt County to establish SCS.

The establishment of SCS in Humboldt County would help us address our overdose and hepatitis C crises. HACHR would be a great home for SCS as we have trust and involvement from the community of people who would use such services, as well as collaborations with various groups and organizations that could help provide a range of services, along with SCS, in order to truly meet people where they are.

Assemblymember Wood isn’t the only local politician who supports the creation of SCS.  Eureka City Council Member Kim Bergil was an early supporter of AB 186.  Having an active and supportive council member has been crucial to our efforts to engage the broader community on the topic of SCS and about our work more broadly. We have met with other civic leaders and are working to gain more political support for our work and for SCS. One of our more recent and fiercest supporters is the president of a local neighborhood watch chapter. She publicly supports the work of HACHR and engages with her peers to reduce the stigma associated with our efforts. We have also garnered the support of a Humboldt County Human Rights Commissioner in our efforts to ensure SCS are established in our community.

In this vast rural land of prohibition, advocating for SCS is just a piece of our work. We work tirelessly to bridge the information gap related to drug use, drug treatment, HIV and hepatitis C testing, overdose, and any local issues that fall under the “harm reduction umbrella” as we work toward our mission to “reduce harm to the Humboldt community through advocacy, education, and services.”

BLOG POST: Pharmacists in California demonstrate that community pharmacies are viable locations for HCV screening & linkage to care

Pharmacists performing hepatitis C antibody point-of-care screening in a community pharmacy: A pilot project Authors: Betty J.Dong, MariaLopez, Jennifer Cocohoba Objectives: To describe the first community pharmacy–based hepatitis C antibody (HCV-Ab) point-of-care (POC) screening program and its outcomes in California. Setting: Community pharmacy. Practice description: Community pharmacists perform HCV-Ab POC testing, counsel patients about HCV … Continue reading “BLOG POST: Pharmacists in California demonstrate that community pharmacies are viable locations for HCV screening & linkage to care”

Pharmacists performing hepatitis C antibody point-of-care screening in a community pharmacy: A pilot project

Authors: Betty J.Dong, MariaLopez, Jennifer Cocohoba

Objectives: To describe the first community pharmacy–based hepatitis C antibody (HCV-Ab) point-of-care (POC) screening program and its outcomes in California.

Setting: Community pharmacy.

Practice description: Community pharmacists perform HCV-Ab POC testing, counsel patients about HCV transmission and prevention, and provide linkage to care.

Practice innovation: Pharmacists implement an HCV-Ab POC screening program in collaboration with the local public health department.

Evaluation: Descriptive data of the demographics of the persons receiving HCV-Ab POC screening and qualitative assessment of the attitudes and knowledge of the trained pharmacists involved in its implementation.

Results: During the 3-month pilot, 6 community pharmacists performed 83 HCV-Ab rapid POC tests with 1 positive result (1.2%). Risk factors for the positive result included injection drug use, crack cocaine or methamphetamine use, and being in the high-risk birth cohort. Although some expressed reservations, pharmacists attested to the feasibility of incorporating HCV screening into their routine pharmacy work. Two major barriers identified by pharmacists for implementing HCV screening included getting non-pharmacy customers into the pharmacy for testing and balancing the time required to review test results within the normal pharmacy workflow.

Conclusion: This pilot demonstrated that trained and motivated community pharmacists in partnership with the Department of Public Health could perform needed rapid HCV-Ab POC screening for potentially high-risk patients not currently in care. Community pharmacies are viable locations for screening and linkage to care owing to their easy access to knowledgeable pharmacists and accessible locations.