Source Division of Viral Hepatitis, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA.
The 2010 Institute of Medicine Report on "Hepatitis and Liver Cancer" indicated that lack of knowledge and awareness about chronic hepatitis B (HBV) and C virus (HCV) infections and insufficient understanding about the extent and seriousness of this public health problem impeded current efforts to prevent and control hepatitis B and C. A single topic conference was held in June 2011 to discuss strategies to improve the effectiveness of screening, care referral and clinical management of chronic HBV and HCV infections with the ultimate goal of reducing morbidity and mortality from these infections. Various models that have been shown to improve hepatitis screening and effectiveness of hepatitis treatment in the community including rural settings and populations that have traditionally been excluded due to comorbidities were presented.
Recent advances in laboratory testing, medical management, and new antiviral therapies will not decrease the burden of viral hepatitis if persons at risk for or are living with viral hepatitis are not aware of the risks, have not been diagnosed, or have no access to care. Systematic changes in our health care delivery system and enhanced coordination of prevention and care services with partnerships between public health leaders and clinicians through education of the public and health care providers and linkage of infected persons with care and treatment services can increase the success of preventing viral hepatitis and the effectiveness of hepatitis treatment in the real-world. Implementation of these changes is feasible and will require policy changes, coordination among government agencies, and collaboration between government agencies, health care providers, community organizations, and advocacy groups.