Viral Hepatitis Updates to Inform Syndemic Approaches

Content From: Jessica Fung Deerin, PhD, MPH, Viral Hepatitis Policy Advisor, Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services , and Nate Fecik, MPH, Senior Advisor on Syndemics, Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Published: January 05, 20233 min read

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Recent viral hepatitis news may be of interest to readers engaged in efforts to respond to the syndemic of viral hepatitis and HIV, a focus of concern in both the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and the Viral Hepatitis National Strategic Plan.

A syndemic is the clustering and interaction of two or more diseases, as a result of social and structural determinants of health (SDOH), that leads to excess burden of disease in a population. Both national strategies seek to advance a more holistic approach to the syndemic of viral hepatitis, HIV, STIs, mental health, and substance use disorders.

To support our colleagues in the HIV community pursuing these more holistic and integrated approaches, we want to share information about several recent viral hepatitis developments and resources.

New CDC Data Reveal Less Than a Third of People Diagnosed with Hepatitis C Receive Timely Treatment

Timely Hepatitis C Treatment by Insurance Type

An issue of CDC’s Vital Signs provided new research on low rates of timely treatment initiation among insured adults diagnosed with hepatitis C, even though hepatitis C is largely curable. The report finds that large gaps in hepatitis C treatment persist nearly a decade after a highly effective cure for this deadly infection was approved. The report notes that only 1 in 3 individuals with insurance receive direct-acting antiviral treatment for hepatitis C within a year of diagnosis. Cost, insurance treatment restrictions, and few primary care providers treating hepatitis C are some of the many barriers to timely treatment. Treatment is even lower among people who are Medicaid or Medicare recipients, those living in states with Medicaid treatment restrictions as well as racial and ethnic minority populations, and among adults under the age of 40. Read the August 2022 MMWR article, Vital Signs: Hepatitis C Treatment Among Insured Adults — United States, 2019–2020

New CDC Resource on Insurance Coverage for Viral Hepatitis Services

Last fall, CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis (DVH) released an FAQ document that summarizes insurance coverage and patient cost-sharing by plan type for viral hepatitis prevention and treatment services. The document discusses coverage by private insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid for:

  • Hepatitis A and B vaccination 
  • Hepatitis B and C screening and testing
  • Hepatitis B and C treatment

Read Frequently Asked Questions: Insurance Coverage for Viral Hepatitis Treatment and Prevention ServicesExit Disclaimer (PDF, 490KB).

NIH-supported Study Finds 3-dose Hepatitis B Vaccine Regimen Protects People with HIV

Finally, findings published last fall from an ongoing clinical trial supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, showed that a three-dose course of the hepatitis B vaccine HEPLISAV-B fully protected adults with HIV who had never been vaccinated against or infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Read the full news release.

Read HIV.gov’s Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C page for information for people with HIV at risk for coinfection or living with coinfection.