Hidden Casualties Webinars Now Available

Content From: Corinna Dan, R.N., M.P.H., Viral Hepatitis Policy Advisor, Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesPublished: May 11, 20185 min read


Dramatic close up image of a spilled bottle of pills.

Cross-posted from HHS.gov

This year, OHAIDP has been focused on facilitating conversations about what a comprehensive response to the national opioid overdose crisis looks like and how the crisis is driving the spread of infectious diseases. We have engaged national organizations as well as federal, state, and community partners to showcase examples of the latest evidence and recommendations, strategies being employed, and the progress being made in responding to the opioid crisis impacting all Americans across the country. Stopping the opioid crisis is a top priority for the nation. Federal agencies, under President Trump, collaborate with some foreign governments, such as China, Mexico, and Canada, to combat the production and availability of illicit synthetic opioids.

In February and March, the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Diseases Policy hosted two webinars that follow the themes introduced last October during the first Hidden Casualties event. The continuation of this series, Hidden Casualties: National Partners' Response to the Opioid Epidemic & Infectious Diseases webinars discussed the impact of the opioid crisis on infectious diseases and shared examples of what national and local partners are doing to respond. Panelists had a chance to describe the guidance, policies, and resources that support their efforts–at the local, state, and national levels–to respond to the opioid crisis and its infectious disease consequences. Their remarks helped the more than 800 participants further understand, prepare and respond to the challenges – as well as the opportunities – in combatting opioid crisis and the spread of infectious diseases transmitted through injection drug use, including HIV and viral hepatitis.

Dr. Richard Wolitski, director, Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy (OHAIDP), provided opening remarks during each webinar where he discussed the massive increase in opioid deaths, intersecting data points between drug overdose death rates (2015) and reported new hepatitis C infections (2013-2014), and HHS’ comprehensive 5-point strategy to combat the crisis.

“We have to go where the problem is, identify the areas of need, and mobilize community health, business, and law enforcement sectors to address the issue collaboratively.” Dr. Richard Wolitski, HHS’ OHAIDP director.

Dr. Wolitski’s observation about the importance of comprehensive community action was a common theme echoed throughout the presentations. Participating organizations included national leaders that are in responding to the opioid crisis in a variety of ways. They and their member organizations provided numerous, concrete examples of effective actions that contribute to their state and local opioid responses. A major goal of the webinars is to discuss shared challenges, steps taken to address the co-occurring problems, of overdose deaths and new HCV infections, and opportunities that may inform other states and local partners working to address this multi-faceted challenge.

Part 1: State Government Perspectives included speakers from the following organizations:

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
    • Steve Daviss, MD, DFAPA, Senior Medical Advisor
  • Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO)
    • Christi Mackie, MPH, Chief, Community Health and Prevention, ASTHO
    • Joan M. Duwve, MD, MPH, Associate Dean for Public Health Practice, Indiana University, Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health, and Chief Medical Officer, Indiana State Department of Health
  • National Association of County & City Health Officials (NACCHO)
    • Laura Hanen, MPP, Interim Executive Director & Chief of Government Affairs, NACCHO
    • Michael E. Kilkenny, MD, MS, Physician, Director, Cabell-Huntington Health Department (Huntington, WV)
  • National Governors Association (NGA)
    • Chelsea Kelleher, Senior Policy Analyst, Health Division, NGA Center for Best Practices
    • Kip Castner, MPS, Chief, Center for HIV/STI Integration and Capacity, Infectious Disease Prevention and Health Services Bureau, Prevention and Health Promotion Administration, Maryland Department of Health

“We’re looking to expand HCV treatment capacity anywhere in any jurisdiction in which we’re standing up syringe services programs, in order to stay ahead of the demand that we expect to find once we start testing more people who use drugs for HCV.”  Kip Castner, Maryland Department of Health.

Click play below to watch part 1 or download the full transcript [PDF, 478KB].

Part 2: Health Policy Perspectives included the following speakers:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
    • Jonathan Mermin, MD, MPH (RADM, USPHS), Director, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention (NCHHSTP)
  • Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
    • Judith Steinberg, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer, Bureau of Primary Health Care,
  • Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA)/HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA)
    • Alysse G. Wurcel, MD, MS, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine Divisions of Geographic Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Tufts Medical Center, Tufts University School of Medicine
  • National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD)
    • Laura Pegram MSW, MPH, Manager, Drug User Health
  • National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC)
    • Ellen Robinson, MHS, PMP, Director, Information Resources and Outreach
    • Kelli Bosak, LCSW, CADC, Behavioral Health Manager, PCC Community Wellness Center
  • National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable (NVHR)
    • Tina Broder, MSW, MPH, Interim Executive Director
    • Louise Vincent, MPH, Executive Director, Urban Survivors Union

Please click below to watch part 2 or download the full transcript [PDF, 279KB].

These recordings are a unique opportunity to hear expert perspectives from local, state, and national organizations as well as learn about some of the innovative work underway in diverse communities across the U.S. to address the opioid epidemic. Consider how the ideas and programs shared can be turned into action – by either expanding or strengthening existing efforts or, maybe, even initiating something new.

“We ask you to identify opportunities and to join the response [to the opioid crisis]. We ask you to look for ways you can enhance your programs that serve people who are at risk for substance abuse disorders. We want to encourage you to engage with new partners, and to provide or refer for recommended services.”  Dr. Richard Wolitski, HHS’ OHAIDP director.

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