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Florida/National News and Press Release Archive

CDC and the Viral Hepatitis Action Coalition collaborate in National Summit

June 17 2014


This meeting will discuss ways to Improve Access to HCV Testing, Treatment, and Cure on Tuesday, June 17th – 2:30 pm – 5:30 pm eastern and Wednesday, June 18th - 8:30 am- 5:00 pm eastern.


Recommendations from CDC and U.S. Preventive Services Task Force for HCV testing and the licensure of safe, highly effective therapies that can cure HCV infection in up to 90% of those treated create a unique opportunity for communities to implement strategies that improve the continuum of HCV testing, care and treatment. Experts will explore strategies for linkage to care by increasing capacity of health care providers, leveraging the health system, and effectively reaching key populations.  


For more information, click here.

Colorado passes HCV testing legislation

May 19 2014 


KDVR-TV reported that on May 19, National Hepatitis Testing Day, Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) signed a bill recommending that the state’s primary care physicians offer hepatitis C virus (HCV) screenings to baby boomers, those individuals born between 1945 and 1965.


According to researchers, 75 percent of individuals who have HCV are not aware of it, and baby boomers are five times more likely to contract the virus. More than 5 million Americans HCV, including 50,000 in Colorado.


For the text of the bill, click here.

The AIDS Institute Releases Hepatitis C Testing Coverage Guide

May 19 2014


In recognition of Hepatitis Testing Day, May 19, The AIDS Institute has released and HIV/HCV Testing Coverage Guide to assist health care providers with navigating each of the major healthcare payers' coverage options for preventive services, specifically for HCV screening.  


To read more in the guide, click here.


NCHHSTP Annual Report Released

April 28 2014


Dr. Jonathan Mermin, Director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on April 28, 2014 the recent publication of the NCHHSTP Annual Report 2013, which highlights the Center’s priorities and achievements.


The report is available for downloading.  To read the report in its entirety, click here.

PRESS RELEASE: TAI Releases HCV Testing Coverage Guide--Click here

May 19 2014



Updated Viral Hepatitis Action Plan Released

April 3 2014 


Today the Department of Human Health & Services released an updated version of the nation’s first comprehensive cross-governmental action plan to combat chronic viral hepatitis, initially launched in 2011.


The Action Plan for the Prevention, Care and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis (2014-2016) builds upon the substantial progress accomplished over the past three years by agencies and offices across the Department of Health and Human Services – as well as within the Departments of Justice and Veterans Affairs.  


To read the complete plan, click here.


Proposed Decision Memo for Screening for Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) in Adults (CAG-00436N) 

March 4 2014


The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposes the following: The evidence is adequate to conclude that screening for Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), consistent with the grade B recommendations by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), is reasonable and necessary for the prevention or early detection of an illness or disability and is appropriate for individuals entitled to benefits under Part A or enrolled under Part B, as described below.  


To see the entire memo, click here.

Hepatitis C Testing - Florida Legislature Update 

March 19 2014


SB824 has passed its first committee of reference, the Health Policy Committee in the Senate.


Hepatitis C Testing - Florida Legislature Update 

March 18 2014


HB465 has unanimously passed its first committee of reference, the Health Quality Sub-committee. Dr. Emmanuel Thomas from the University of Miami and Michael Ruppal, Executive Director of The AIDS Institute provided testimony to support the bill.

Annals of Internal Medicine HCV Update

March 4 2014


Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Infection in the United States, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003 to 2010


Maxine M. Denniston, MSPH; Ruth B. Jiles, PhD, MS, MPH; Jan Drobeniuc, MD, PhD; R. Monina Klevens, DDS, MPH; John W. Ward, MD; Geraldine M. McQuillan, PhD; and Scott D. Holmberg, MD, MPH.


To read the entire article, click here

Protecting Yourself From Liver Disease

February 25 2014

Progress Against Hepatitis C, a Sneaky Virus

NY Times Personal Health Monday February 24 2014



Forty years ago, a beloved neighbor was bedridden for weeks at a time with a mysterious ailment. She knew only that it involved her liver and that she must never drink alcohol, which would make things worse. It was decades before the cause of these debilitating flare-ups was discovered: a viral infection at first called non-A, non-B hepatitis, then properly identified in 1989 as hepatitis C. The apparent source of her infection was a blood transfusion she had received decades earlier.


To read the entire New York Times story, click here.


New HCV Interim Treatment Recommendations Available

February 07, 2014


The latest treatment recommendations for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection are now available on, the result of a collaboration between the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD), the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), and the International Antiviral Society.  


To read the guidelines, click here.

PRESS RELEASE: TAI Applauds Issuance of AASLD/IDSA “HCV Guidance” and launch of website--Click here

January 30 2014

Mia Jones' bill would require doctors to offer Hepatitis C tests to Baby Boomers 

The Florida Times-Union, Matt Dixon

January 22 2014


Tallahassee | The Centers for Disease Control issued a report in May highlighting that 75 percent of all adult patients with Hepatitis C are so-called Baby Boomers, or those who were born between 1945-1965.


As a result, state Rep. Mia Jones, D-Jacksonville, has filed legislation requiring doctors to offer those patients a Hepatitis C test during check-ups.“  When I talk to some doctors, they say that it’s currently not a regular question that is asked,” Jones said.


The legislation requires only that doctors offer a test, not that a test be conducted. Patients would be asked at both hospital and doctor visits. There are exemptions in place if the patient is facing a life-threatening emergency, lacks the ability to consent to a test, or already been offered a test.


The Centers for Disease Control is unsure why so many Baby Boomers have Hepetitis C, but says many might not even know they have the disease. “Since people living with Hepatitis C can live for decades without symptoms, many Baby Boomers are unknowingly living with an infection they got many years ago,” read the center’s report. The Florida Association of Health Plans, which represents the state’s largest health insurance companies, was considered a potential opponent, but now says it may not fight the bill. There had been concern that the association could deem the legislation as creating a new mandate, which it generally opposes.  In an email sent Wednesday, Audrey Brown, the association’s president and CEO, said “ it doesn’t appear that the bill is a mandate of coverage,” but declined to comment further.


House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, also expressed concern about the potential of a new mandate after a news conference Jones held last week to unveil the bill.  Jones has met with Weatherford, who “encouraged” her to make sure that the language did not represent a new mandate.


Jones says she has a meeting scheduled with the health insurers to discuss any concerns they have with the bill. “It’s important to remember it’s not like they are required to take the test,” said Jones, who is the ranking-member of the House Health and Human Services Committee. Though there is no legislation filed in the Senate, Jones expects state Sen. Aaron Bean, a Fernandina Beach Republican, or state Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, to carry the bill in that chamber.


Michael Ruppal (seen below) speaks at a January 22 press conference with Representative Mia Jones (right) about the need for HCV testing legislation.


The AIDS Institute Applauds First House Committee Passage of HEP C Baby Boomer Testing Legislation (HB465)

January 2014


Tallahassee, Fla. – The AIDS Institute (TAI) today offered the following comments in response to the passage of House Bill (HB) 465 from its first committee of reference. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Mia Jones (D-Jacksonville), will take important steps forward in combatting the growing concerns surrounding Hepatitis C among baby boomers.


The AIDS Institute Executive Director, Michael Ruppal said, "We applaud Rep. Mia Jones for her early effort to bring awareness to Hepatitis C – also known as 'The Silent Epidemic' - and the need to get tested. We know that getting tested can help people learn if they are infected and get them the lifesaving care and treatment they need. We are excited that the legislation is advancing in the Florida House of Representatives and look forward to continuing productive conversations with all legislators.”


HB465 requires that Hepatitis C virus (HCV) testing be offered to persons born between 1945 and 1965 – the Baby Boomer generation - with the exception of the following:


  • Patient is being treated for a life-threatening emergency
  • Patient has previously been offered or had an HCV test
  • Patient lacks the capacity to provide consent.


The HCV test will be offered in hospitals, clinics and other primary care settings.



  • 4 million U.S. residents are living with HCV.
  • 17,000 new HCV infections occur annually in the United States.
  • 15,000 deaths occur each year—now exceeding those who die of HIV.
  • 300,000 Floridians are living with HCV.


Ruppal noted in his testimony that over half of the 300,000 Floridians living with Hepatitis C do not know they are infected. “This legislation, when passed, will have a profound impact on Florida’s public health.”                                        


H.R.3723 - Viral Hepatitis Testing Act of 2013
December 13 2013

The first-ever bill to require hepatitis C (HCV) testing among Baby Boomers was introduced in the first session of the 113th Congress.  Track its progress in the second session by clicking here

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