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MA Viral Hepatitis Coalition

Last Updated: February 17, 2012

Massachusetts Viral Hepatitis Coalition

AIDS Action Committee is the convener of the Massachusetts Viral Hepatitis Coalition, a collaboration of organizations, providers, and consumers working to increase awareness of viral hepatitis and build support for programs addressing the needs of those living with or at risk for viral hepatitis. Approximately 14 percent of those living with HIV or AIDS in Massachusetts are also co-infected with viral hepatitis, which increases their risk for greater liver damage, depression, and a faster Hepatitis C disease progression.

Join the coalition:

Add your voice to the statewide collaboration of organizations, providers and consumers to reduce the scope and consequences of the hepatitis epidemics. Membership in MVHC is free and open to everyone. As a member, you have the opportunity to educate your community about viral hepatitis and connect to other advocates and organizations. For a full listing of benefits, please click here

Download the membership form.

If you have any questions about the coalition, please contact Liz Pugh, epugh@aac.org.

Hepatitis C Resource Guide:

AIDS Action Committee of MA (AAC) and the Massachusetts Viral Hepatitis Coalition (MVHC) created this guide for people interested in learning more about hepatitis C (Hep C, HCV) including where to go for screening, care, and treatment in Massachusetts. The guide is also for those who provide information and referrals to Hep C services. Download Hepatitis C Resource Guide. For more hepatitis C resources click here.

  1. What is hepatitis?
  2. How common is viral hepatitis?
  3. What is the state of Massachusetts currently doing about viral hepatitis?
  4. What is increased funding for viral hepatitis prevention, education, and services needed?

What is hepatitis? 

Hepatitis is any kind of inflammation of the liver and can cause the organ to not function properly. Hepatitis is most often viral, due to infection with one of the hepatitis viruses (in the US the most common types of viral hepatitis are Hepatitis A, B and C). Hepatitis can also be caused by another virus such as those that cause infectious mononucleosis, cytomegalovirus disease, or yellow fever. The main non-viral causes of hepatitis are alcohol and drugs. All types of viral hepatitis are quite different but are infectious and may cause the following symptoms: loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, joint pain, jaundice. Symptoms of acute infection most common in Hepatitis A (H; many people infected with Hepatitis B and C have no symptoms.

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How common is viral hepatitis? 

There are approximately 3.5 million to 5.3 million Americans currently living with viral hepatitis and 65%-75% of them are unaware of their status. The US Centers for Disease Control has recently determined that deaths from viral hepatitis are insufficiently appreciated and by 2007 were exceeding reported deaths caused by HIV.

Today in Massachusetts there are estimated to be at least 100,000 people living with Hepatitis C (HCV), with between 8,000 to 10,000 new diagnoses annually.  Between 2002 and 2009, the rate of HCV infection among teens and young adults in Massachusetts has doubled, largely driven by the shared use of injection drug equipment, with approximately 1,000 new diagnoses annually in this age group.

Since 2006, there have been less than 100 cases annually of Hepatitis A (HAV) in Massachusetts. From 2002 to 2010, cases of Hepatitis B (HBV) decreased 30 percent in Massachusetts to less than 500 new diagnoses annually.

Learn more about viral hepatitis, how it's transmitted and treated, by visiting the Get Info section of our website.

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What is the state of Massachusetts currently doing about viral hepatitis? 

Currently there is no viral hepatitis line item in the state budget.  However, the state does currently fund some limited services for viral hepatitis as part of the HIV/AIDS line item (#4512-0103), including some prevention, screening and medical case management services for people living with and at risk for Hepatitis C. In FY12, the state also purchased Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B vaccines for high-risk uninsured persons through the Department of Public Health’s Universal Immunization Program (line item # 4580-1000).

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Why is increased funding for viral hepatitis prevention, education, and services needed? 

Increased funding for viral hepatitis will make it possible for the Department of Public Health to:

  • Increase State Lab services to test for the presence of viral hepatitis in patients;
  • Purchase and administer more HAV and HBV vaccines;
  • Expand counseling and testing services;
  • Expand quality, regional case management services for people infected with viral hepatitis;
  • Expand surveillance of viral hepatitis to better assess state needs;
  • Save millions of dollars in health care costs by avoiding future serious health complications due to untreated hepatitis infections. Nationally, total annual medical costs for persons with HCV infection are projected to more than double over the next 20 years, from $30 billion to $85 billion.
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