Public Release:  Annals of Internal Medicine tip sheet for April 29, 2014

American College of Physicians

1. Viral hepatitis remains a major health concern in the U.S.

Experts comment on HHS 2014-2016 Viral Hepatitis Action Plan

Untreated chronic viral hepatitis affects between 3.5 and 5.3 million Americans and continues to fuel rising incidences of progressive liver disease, liver failure, and liver cancer. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) unveiled the nation's first coordinated national approach to tackling viral hepatitis with the Action Plan for the Prevention, Care and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis in the United States. Priorities set by the action plan represent a call to action to advance both the prevention and treatment of viral hepatitis. Health policies, such as the Affordable Care Act, bring health insurance coverage to those who may have been previously denied coverage for a preexisting condition of chronic viral hepatitis. In addition, new awareness campaigns and screening recommendations may help hundreds of thousands of infected patients learn their viral hepatitis status. Still, the authors of a new commentary being published in Annals of Internal Medicine say more can be done. The updated 2014-2016 HHS Viral Hepatitis Action Plan builds on the goals outlined in 2011 but spells out specific actions to be undertaken by federal partners. It also expands the focus on evaluation with additional metrics to monitor the plan's major goals. The authors are encouraged by the new plan and call for further commitments to advance the goal of decreasing morbidity and mortality from viral hepatitis.

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