By: Westley Clark, M.D., J.D., M.P.H., Director, SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment
May is Hepatitis Awareness Month and SAMHSA is joining CDC and others in urging two groups of people to get tested for hepatitis C (HCV):
- Those born between 1945 and 1965 (rates of infection in this group are five times higher than in other adults in the U.S. population);
- Those who have engaged in high-risk behaviors, such as injection drug use.
Injection drug use is a primary risk factor for exposure to bloodborne pathogens, such as hepatitis C virus (HCV), and is the leading source of HCV in the U.S. Injection drug use is the most common risk factor among new cases of HCV reported to the CDC. People who inject drugs account for 64 percent of the estimated 3.5 – 5.3 million people believed to be infected with HCV.
In September 2010, SAMHSA launched Enhancing Substance Abuse Treatment to Promote Healthy Lifestyles Through Addressing Hepatitis Infection Among Injection Drug Users . To date, this project has provided HCV testing and immunization resources to opioid treatment programs that reached 1,050 patients, including 105 newly diagnosed HCV-positive patients. In FY 2013, SAMHSA built on this effort by funding the purchase of HCV-testing materials for opioid treatment programs.
More recently, SAMHSA’s Addiction Technology Transfer Centers, or ATTCs, have begun developing a curriculum for helping addiction treatment providers learn about hepatitis prevention and risk factors as well as available resources for dealing with the disease.
These efforts are aligned with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s (HHS) Action Plan for the Prevention, Care & Treatment of Viral Hepatitis. This report is available at: http://www.hhs.gov/ash/initiatives/hepatitis/actionplan_viralhepatitis2011.pdf
SAMHSA also has these materials in support of the HHS Action Plan and to address the needs of treatment providers:
- TIP 53: Addressing Viral Hepatitis in People with Substance Use Disorders http://store.samhsa.gov/product/TIP-53-Addressing-Viral-Hepatitis-in-People-With-Substance-Use-Disorders/SMA11-4656
- Letter from CSAT Director to treatment providers; includes links to resources http://buprenorphine.samhsa.gov/ReminderMayisHepatitisAwarenessMonth.pdf
- Funding for testing and vaccination in opioid treatment programs http://www.samhsa.gov/grants/2013/ti-13-009.aspx
If you are hosting a hepatitis testing event this year, please contact CDC at: http://www.cdcnpin.org/HTD/SubmitEvent.aspx