Tag Archives: Hepatitis

There’s currently an outbreak of Hepatitis A affecting gay and bisexual men.

Hepatitis A outbreak in England under investigation

Public Health England is investigating a hepatitis A outbreak predominantly affecting men who have sex with men. Between July 2016 and 2 April 2017, 266 cases associated with the outbreak had been identified in England. At least 74% of these were among MSM, and 63% of cases were in London. There is evidence that there have been some cases in the wider population linked to the outbreak.

A high proportion of cases likely acquired the infection abroad at the beginning of the outbreak, but transmission now mainly occurs in England. The outbreak comprises three concurrently-circulating genotype Ia strains, previously not seen in England. Hepatitis A outbreaks caused by the same strains are concurrently occurring in 12 European countries and elsewhere in the UK outside of England [1,2].

As part of the outbreak response, PHE together with the British Association for Sexual health and HIV have recommended that MSM with one or more new or casual partner in the last three months are opportunistically vaccinated in GUM clinics at their next appointment. In addition, pop-up vaccination clinics have been set up around gay venues in London. PHE is considering wider vaccination strategies to respond this outbreak, which is occurring in the context of a global shortage of hepatitis A vaccine.

See the PDF version of this report for the epidemiological curve depicting the outbreak.

References:

  1. ECDC (December 2016). Rapid risk assessment: hepatitis A outbreaks in the EU/EEA mostly affecting men who have sex with men.
  2. Beebeejaun K, Degala S, Balogun K, Simms I, Woodhall SC, Heinsbroek E, et al (2017). Outbreak of hepatitis A associated with men who have sex with men (MSM), England, July 2016 to January 2017. Euro. Surveill. 22(5), 2 February.

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A patient’s journey through their hepatitis C treatment and care.

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This article is a guest post by David Rowlands, see toward the bottom for contact details.

Insight 7: “Motivation is key”
(Treatment Week 4 of 12)

When I first started treatment I had a number of blood tests, one measuring the “viral load” which showed the amount of hepatitis C present within my blood. At this time my viral load was showing to be 44,270,000, for me this was a very high result and I felt anxious about my next blood tests which were 2 weeks into my treatment. I have now received these blood results and I have had a huge reduction in my viral load. This is fantastic news and now is showing at 452.

Feeling Anxious

I felt anxious about having my blood tests, this is totally normal. I find speaking to a close friend or family before or after getting results does help and you as you are able to air any concerns you maybe having.

Feeling motivated

Receiving these results has motivated me. I am taking the correct prescribed medication at the correct times and these results are showing this. These results are helping me to stay on track of my treatment.

Not every patents viral load drops so quickly. I would contact you healthcare team or AbbVie Care, if you do have any treatment concerns. They may be able to help and support you to make the changes needed, I am sure you will want to achieve the best outcomes from your hepatitis C therapy and making small amends to when or how you take your treatment could be an option.

What motivates me to stay on track?

  • I have high chance of curing my hepatitis C.
  • I feel better now, than in a long time.
  • I might stop feeling so exhausted after clearing my hepatitis C.
    Already I have got rid of the brain fog I was experiencing.
  • I can improve my liver health.
  • I can drink alcohol again when I have completed treatment.
  • I won’t need to worry about passing hepatitis C onto someone else.
  • I won’t have to worry about how to tell people I have hepatitis C anymore.
  • I can live free from fear of serious liver disease or liver cancer in the future.

Motivational messages to help you stay on track

The AbbVie Care patient support programme offers motivational messages throughout your treatment. The programme tailors the support a patients gets using patient activation measure (PAM) score. This score (low, medium and high) will determine the number of messages you receive through your treatment.

Here are some examples you may receive

Week 2 (High and medium PAM score)
“Hello from AbbVie Care. Well done on getting through your first week and welcome to AbbVie Care. We are here to support you if you need us in addition to your specialist team. Call us on 0800 1488322”

Week 3 (Low PAM score)
”Hello from AbbVie Care. Try to keep a positive frame of mind. Think about something that makes you smile or link up with someone who can support you if you are struggling”

Week 4 (Low PAM score)
“Hello from AbbVie Care. Well done on getting to 4 weeks, you’re doing really well. Only 8 weeks left to go till you complete treatment. Remember every single dose counts for the best chance of a good result”

Try something new

It’s the last thing you want to be doing when you don’t feel one hundred percent, but I have found trying something new has given me more energy. Running, walking, and cycling has given me fresh air, even if it has been for a few minutes.

I feel it has improved my moods, stress, and physical health, but also made me sleep better in the evenings. If you don’t feel like you have so much energy, read a new book or learn a news skill, use this treatment experience to do something new, explore something you have always wanted to.

New week…..

My insight will be focusing on “side-effects” I believe this is an important topic to discuss to look at what minimal side-effects I am experiencing and how I addressing these.

About the author:

David Rowlands is the director of Design-Redefined.co.uk, delivering effective healthcare communications to enable people with HIV and/or hepatitis C (HCV) to become better engaged with their treatment and care.

Drawing on his established networks and collaboration with partners, David is able to bring healthcare together, by engaging patients & organisations, healthcare providers, physicians, stakeholders & policy makers.

Contact David via Email, Twitter, or visit his website.

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The world needs a healthier, rights-based approach towards people who use drugs

DrugsParty

The world is failing to protect the health and human rights of people who use drugs.

As a result, people who use drugs, especially people who inject drugs, have been isolated and denied the means to protect themselves from HIV, hepatitis C, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.

Among the estimated 12 million people who inject drugs globally, one in 10 is living with HIV. From 2010 to 2014, there was no decline in the annual number of new HIV infections among people who inject drugs, in contrast to the global trend of declining new HIV infections.

The evidence is overwhelming. The world needs a fresh approach towards people who use drugs that is people-, rights- and health-centered.

Story via 
TheWorldPost

In a new report, Do no harm: health, human rights and people who use drugs, UNAIDS presents the evidence for what works to reduce the impact of HIV and other harms associated with drug use. Countries that have shifted their focus away from laws and policies that are harmful to people who use drugs and that have increased investment in harm reduction programs have reduced new HIV infections and improved health outcomes.

For example, investment in needle-syringe distribution and opioid substitution therapy has proved effective at reducing the impact of the AIDS epidemic among people who inject drugs in several countries, including China, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Moldova.

China’s free voluntary methadone program piloted in the early 2000s now serves more than 180 000 people. People who inject drugs represented less than 8% of people newly diagnosed with HIV in the country in 2013, compared with 43.9% in 2003. In prisons in the Islamic Republic of Iran, health clinics provide integrated services for the treatment and prevention of sexually transmitted infections and for injecting drug use and HIV, and new HIV cases among people who inject drugs fell from a peak of 1897 in 2005 to 684 in 2013. In the Republic of Moldova, the proportion of prisoners living with HIV having access to antiretroviral medicines has increased from 2% in 2005 to 62% in 2013.

Some countries, such as Australia, the Netherlands, Portugal and Switzerland, have de-penalized the possession and use of small quantities of drugs for personal use, encouraging people who inject drugs to access strengthened harm reduction programs.

UNAIDS would like to see a global adoption of a people-centered, public health and human rights based approach to drug use.

The world cannot continue to ignore what works.

In the coming weeks, the United Nations General Assembly will have two opportunities to consider the weight of evidence supporting a change in approach. This week’s United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem provides an opportunity to refocus international drug policies on their original goal—the health and well-being of humankind. A few weeks later, from 8 to 10 June, the General Assembly will meet again for the High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS, which must translate commitments to leave no one behind in the AIDS response into measurable progress for people who inject drugs.

There is a unique opportunity to begin to treat people who use drugs with dignity and respect, to provide people who use drugs with equal access to health and social services, to greatly reduce the harms of drug use and to take a step towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.

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Next Volunteer Induction Meeting with HIV & Hepatitis Update Training afterwards

Volunteering

Our next Volunteer meeting will be on 29th January 2015 and consists in two parts.  To begin with, we’ll ensure all new volunteers have an induction to LASS and our services where we’ll talk about our aims and objectives, an overview of our teams, confidentiality/policies, and checking paperwork like applications and CRB checks (if necessary).

LASS can be a busy place at times, and these monthly meetings are ideal to stay updated with our work and engage with us while socialising and staying active with new and interesting projects.

Once these basics are covered, we’ll explain HIV basics and talk about volunteer involvement and plan for our current and future projects.  Previously we’ve shared our collective knowledge about volunteering within a health and social care environment, provided details of free training courses ranging from HIV information, to mentoring, to computer skills (some of these award certificates or qualifications).

We have a very interesting year ahead, we work across the whole range of communities in Leicester and Leicestershire, tackling wider health, poverty and inequalities that impact on individuals living with HIV.

We request all new volunteers to attend at least one meeting so we can ensure new people are familiar with our service, and for everyone else, we hope you’ll become a regular so we can plan ahead and really make an impact like we have been doing over the past 26 years.

HIV & Hepatitis Update

Celia---HIV-Basics

Celia Fisher (@LASSCelia) delivering HIV training at LASS.

 

Following out Volunteer meeting, we’re delivering a HIV & Hepatitis update between 13:00 – 15:00hrs, facilitated & developed by LASS’s Celia Fisher.

The aim of this session is to provide an update of the recent advances and information about HIV & Hepatitis – including transmission, risks, treatment and statistics. It is beneficial to consider these blood borne viruses in one session and to explore the wider determinants of these viruses.

The session will be of interest and benefit to people who deliver health, HIV, Hepatitis or other support services such as housing, job advice, those who work with people living with / affected by or more at risk of HIV and/or Hepatitis. The session will benefit individuals who want to be up to date with their knowledge.

We hope you’ll join us this Thursday, 29th January at 11:00am at 11:00am at The Michael Wood Centre, we’d love to hear from you.

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Training Sessions (January – March 2015)

Celia---HIV-Basics

Celia Fisher (@LASSCelia) delivering HIV training at LASS.

 

Upcoming training in the new year includes HIV awareness, Hepatitis, Mental Health, Circumcision / FGM & HIV & The Law.

All sessions include group discussions and some include guest speakers. Please book using the LASS training booking form and email to training@lass.org.uk.

We have introduced some new sessions into the programme this term, as well as including the popular sessions.  Please note that sessions will start promptly and late comers may not be admitted depending on the discretion of the facilitator.

  •  29th January 2015 1-3pm
  • HIV & Hepatitis Update
  • Facilitated & delivered by LASS

The aim of this session is to provide an update of the recent advances and information about HIV & Hepatitis – including transmission, risks, treatment and statistics. It is beneficial to consider these blood borne viruses in one session and to explore the wider determinants of these viruses.

The session will be of interest and benefit to people who deliver health, HIV, Hepatitis or other support services such as housing, job advice, those who work with people living with / affected by or more at risk of HIV and/or Hepatitis. The session will benefit individuals who want to be up to date with their knowledge.

  • 5th February 2015 10am – 1pm
  • HIV & Mental Health   
  • Facilitated and delivered by Hayley Poole (clinical psychologist) and Celia Fisher.

 The aim of the session is to consider and review the links between HIV and mental health, from diagnosis through to good health and beyond. We will consider different aspects of mental health and factors specifically associated with HIV.

The session will include discussion about services, pathways and self-help, with approaches and mechanisms for managing our own mental health.

The session will be of interest to people who deliver health & related services, such as housing, job & career advice, community development, substance misuse, those who work with people living with or affected by HIV who may have mental health issues.

  • 5th March 2015: 10am  – 1pm
  • HIV & Circumcision / FGM – Understanding, issues and actions?
  • Facilitated by Maryan Anshur of Somali Development Services and Celia Fisher of LASS

 The session in November generated a lot of discussion and debate about both male circumcision and FGM, with FGM being a challenging topic for many people. This follow up session will enable others to find out about these topics and to continue the learning through discussion and listening. The session will explore our own and media perceptions and messages associated with circumcision and FGM. T

We will consider what action we need to take in working with women who have suffered FGM and with girls and young women who may be at risk of FGM.

The session will be of interest to people who deliver sexual health & HIV services, those who work with different communities in various settings including schools and colleges.

  • 23rd March 2015: 1-4pm
  • HIV & The Law
  • Facilitated by LASS

In March 2014, LASS facilitated an update of the situation regarding HIV & the Law and criminalisation for reckless transmission of HIV, delivered by Robert James of Birkbeck University. There have been some developments in the past year or more in the way the police investigate allegations, so the situation is not static.

This session will provide a refresher about this topic and will cover the changing approaches that police forces and the CPS are taking in investigations.

The session will be of interest to people who are living with or affected by HIV and for support workers and practitioners.

We also offer bespoke sessions for organisations and communities covering a range of topics. Please get in touch if you have particular training needs.

Additional

We are also planning some sessions for people living with or affected by HIV: HIV & Relationships on 3rd February and HIV & Mental health on 3rd March, so please advertise these sessions with people you work with.

We are also looking at a Happy parenting course – perhaps 2 Saturdays – for people living with or affected by HIV who have children / are involved in child care within the family (grandpas & grandmas, uncles, aunts etc.). This will include a range of topics – hopes & aspirations; coping with stress; parenting dilemmas and solutions; the effect of food on mood: sleep; and others!

We’ll have more information on the above two courses in the new year.  For more information on training at LASS, please see Celia Fisher.

 

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Scientists Develop Nanoparticle Which Completely Destroys Hepatitis C

Estimates suggest over 250,000 people in the UK have been infected with hepatitis C, but eight out of 10 don’t know they have it because they have no symptoms. About 75% of these people go on to develop a chronic hepatitis.

Because it can take years, even decades, for symptoms to appear, many people (possibly 100,000 or more) remain unaware they have a problem. By the time they become ill and seek help, considerable damage has been done to the liver. This might have been prevented if the person had been diagnosed earlier.

Elsewhere in the world, hepatitis C is even more common – the World Health Organization estimates that three per cent of the world’s population (about 170 million people) have chronic hepatitis C and up to four million people are newly infected each year.

While there’s increasing progress towards finding a reliable vaccine, results can’t come soon enough. Now, researchers have developed a nanoparticle that effectively eradicates hepatitis C 100 per cent of the time.

Researchers from the University of Florida have developed what they call a “nanozyme”. Based around gold nanoparticles, these things have their surface coated with two biological agents. One is an enzyme that attacks and kills the mRNA which allows hep C to replicate, while the other is a short string of DNA which identities the disease and sends the enzyme off to kill it.

While current hep C treatments attack the same replication process, they only work on about 50 per cent of patients treated. In lab-based tests, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Univeristy of Florida researchers showed that their approach was 100 per cent effective in both cell cultures and mice. They observed no side effects in the mouse models, either.

While it’s great news, such a treatment is some way off becoming available to patients any time soon. All targeted drugs have to be extremely carefully tested, as there’s always a risk that they could also end up targeting healthy parts of the body by accident. Given the current problems posed by hepatitis C, though, that testing can’t happen soon enough.

Original Articles via BBC, Gizmodo, PNAS & IEEE Spectrum

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People Get HIV Through Unprotected Sex, Not Because They’re Going For Fish Pedicures!

The Health Protection Agency have said today that there is a risk of catching infections like HIV and Hepatitis from fish pedicure spa’s that are popping up everywhere.

An agency spokesman said: “We have issued this guidance because there are a growing number of these spas.  When the correct hygiene procedures are followed, the risk of infection is very low”.

“However, there is still a risk of transmission of a number of infections — this does include viruses like HIV and hepatitis.”

It’s a fine line to disagree with the Health Protection Agency but LASS are in good company.  HIV expert charities like Terrence Higgins Trust and the National AIDS Trust also say the likelihood of catching HIV in this manner is “almost impossible”.

It doesn’t help when the media sensationalise stories like this and take them out of context, reporting headlines such as “Fears fish foot spa pedicures could spread HIV and hepatitis C

Deborah Jack, chief executive of NAT, has accused the HPA of “misleading” people .

She said: “There is no risk of HIV being passed on through a fish pedicure and these claims do nothing but undermine public understanding.  At a time when knowledge of HIV is declining, it is crucial for the public to be aware of the facts so they can protect themselves from real transmission risk – and not get preoccupied with sensationalist and inaccurate reports.  We are concerned the HPA’s guidance has been misleading in terms of HIV risk and we urge them to clarify their position on this as soon as possible”.

“People are contracting HIV because they aren’t using condoms, not because they’re going for fish pedicures!”

Lisa Power, policy director at THT, said: “The risk of HIV being transmitted through a fish pedicure is so small as to be almost impossible. HIV is a fragile virus once it is outside the body; it cannot be passed on via animal or insect bites.

“For transmission to occur, two successive clients would need open wounds on their feet and there would have to be huge amounts of infected blood in the water. The reality is, in this country, too many people are contracting HIV because they aren’t using condoms, not because they’re going for fish pedicures.”

The National AIDS Trust have issued their own press release on the subject and a key point being made is the HPA’s report examines the available evidence and scientific plausibility for the transmission of blood borne viruses from person to person, via the water in the fish tank.  The HPA’s own report (which you can download from here) says “there is theoretical potential for transmission to occur” not “Pedicures could spread HIV”

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