Local Health Care Professionals To
Attend Training Program To Combat Hepatitis C
March 10, 2004
Orleans Event To Be First "Train the Trainers" Event in the
NEW ORLEANS – Area media representatives
are invited to learn about the “Train the Trainers”
program, a two-day seminar providing education and certification
to local health educators and professionals who are on the front
lines in providing education, support and advocacy for people
affected by the hepatitis C virus (HCV).
This is the first “Train the Trainers” event in
the Southeast. The national program was created by the Hepatitis
C Support Project based in San Francisco and is supported by
an unrestricted educational grant from Roche Pharmaceuticals.
The program is co-sponsored locally by the Louisiana Office
of Public Health Infectious Disease Epidemiology Program, Siren
to Wail, and the NO/AIDS Task Force.
Program representatives and local health officials will be available
to address the following:
• The importance of the “Train the Trainers”
program in instructing local health care professionals to effectively
deal with hepatitis C.
• What hepatitis C is and why is it important for the
public to know about the disease.
• The state of hepatitis C in New Orleans and the United
Why: An estimated 2.7
million Americans are infected with chronic hepatitis C –
nearly 80,000 in Louisiana alone. The case rate of the disease
in Louisiana is almost six times higher than the national
rate, with males accounting for the majority of those infected.
Additionally, New Orleans has one of the highest rates of
this potentially deadly disease in the state.
March 18, and Friday, March 19
8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: NO/AIDS Task Force
2601 Tulane Ave., Suite 500
Who: The following individuals will be available
• Dr. Raoult Ratard, state epidemiologist, Louisiana
Office of Public Health
• Noel Twilbeck, executive director, NO/AIDS Task Force
• Renee Strickland, RN MSN, CFNP of HOPE-C Project
RSVP: For more information
and to schedule an interview with a project coordinator representative,
please contact Alan Franciscus at 415-587-8908 or Jack Martin
at (615) 259-4000.
FACT SHEET: HEPATITIS C
• Hepatitis C (HCV) is a potentially
life-threatening infection of the liver transmitted by blood-to-blood
contact with infected blood and blood products. The U.S. Government
estimates that approximately 4 million Americans were infected
with HCV of whom 2.7 million are chronically infected.
• An estimated 8,000-10,000 Americans
die annually from complications related to HCV. The number
of deaths attributed to HCV is expected to rise to 14,000-19,000
• HCV in the leading reason for liver
transplants in the U.S. It is estimated that 5% of Americans
infected with hepatitis C will experience liver disease serious
enough to require a liver transplant.
• Hepatitis C is often described
as a “silent epidemic” because people infected
with hepatitis C usually show no symptoms, although they can
still be infected and transmit the virus to others. It is
estimated that only 25% of hepatitis C cases have been diagnosed.
When symptoms are present they can include fatigue, flu-like
symptoms, muscle and joint pain and, rarely, jaundice.
• The incubation period (the period
of time between initial exposure and the development of symptoms)
of hepatitis C is 2 – 26 weeks.
• There are many subtypes of hepatitis
C called genotypes. The most common genotypes in the U.S.
are genotype 1 (70%) followed by genotypes 2 and 3 (30%).
Genotype information is important because it can help predict
HCV medical treatment response.
• Hepatitis C infection is characterized
by inflammation and/or swelling of the liver and may lead
to progressive liver disease resulting in cirrhosis, liver
cancer and death. The most common symptoms include fatigue,
weakness, loss of appetite, and nausea.
• The most common transmission routes
are sharing infected used needles and drug preparation tools,
and receiving blood or blood products prior to 1992. Sexual
transmission is uncommon between stable monogamous sexual
partners. Mother to child transmission occurs less than 5%
of the time. Less common but possible transmission routes
include tattooing, piercing and sharing during nasal cocaine/crank
• For about 1 in 10 people with hepatitis
C, it is not known how they became infected.
• Hepatitis C can be identified through
blood tests that detect the presence of antibodies to hepatitis
C. If these tests are positive a hepatitis C viral load test
will confirm the presence of hepatitis C in the blood.
• There is no vaccine for hepatitis
• The current standard of care for
treating hepatitis C is a combination of pegylated interferon
and ribavirin. Other treatment options include interferon
monotherapy and interferon (non-pegylated) in combination
with ribavirin. The goals of anti-HCV therapy are viral elimination,
improved liver health and the slowing down or stopping of
• Current HCV medications can eliminate
the virus in up to 50% of people treated with hepatitis C
medications. Some physicians believe that hepatitis C can
be cured in some patients.
• The Hepatitis C Epidemic Control
and Prevention Act is pending before the U.S. House of Representatives
and the U.S. Senate. This proposal is the first coordinated
response to the prevention and control of hepatitis C. Senate
bill S.1143 was introduced by Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison
(R-TX) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA). House of Representatives
bill H.R. 3539 was introduced by Heather Wilson (R-NM) and
Edolphus Towns (D-NY).
Hepatitis C Glossary
ACUTE: a rapid-onset, short-term initial
stage of a disease.
ACUTE HEPATITIS: the initial stage of viral
hepatitis following infection. In HCV, acute hepatitis refers
to the first six months of infection.
ANEMIA: reduced number of red blood cells
or reduced ability of blood to carry oxygen. There are several
types of anemia, all with different causes. Symptoms may include
fatigue, weakness, pale skin, and difficulty breathing.
ANTIBODY: a protein produced by the immune
system when a foreign substance enters the body. The presence
of antibodies is an indicator of a past or possibly current
infection. HCV antibodies are written as anti-HCV. The test
for anti-HCV must be followed by other laboratory tests in
order to confirm the diagnosis. The antibody test alone is
not sufficient to make a diagnosis of chronic HCV infection.
ALANINE AMINOTRANSFERASE abbreviation for
ALT: ALT is an enzyme produced inside liver cells. It is frequently
elevated in people with chronic HCV infection. Serum ALT levels
are measured using a common blood test.
ASYMPTOMATIC: not feeling or showing outward
symptoms or signs of a disease.
BIOPSY: a procedure in which a sample of
cells or tissue is taken for examination in a laboratory.
In HCV, liver biopsies are used to monitor the health of the
BLOOD BORNE: a pathogen that is transmitted
through direct blood-to-blood contact.
CHRONIC LIVER DISEASE: a long-term or persistent liver disease
that may lead to progressive destruction of the liver.
CIRRHOSIS: a type of liver damage in which
normal liver cells are replaced with scar tissue. In cirrhosis,
liver function is severely impaired and scar tissue interferes
with normal blood flow through the liver.
COINFECTED: refers to infection with two
or more different disease-causing organisms.
EFFICACY: effectiveness; the ability to
achieve a desired effect.
FIBROSIS: liver damage that involves the
development of fibrous scar tissue.
FULMINANT HEPATITIS: a severe, life-threatening
form of hepatitis.
GASTROENTEROLOGY: the medical specialty
that deals with the digestive system; a gastroenterologist
treats digestive diseases.
GENOTYPE: genetic variation in the structure
of HCV. There are six major genotypes, designated by the numbers
1 through 6.
HCV RNA: the genetic material of the hepatitis
C virus. HCV is a single-stranded ribonucleic acid (RNA) virus.
HEMOPHILIA: a hereditary disease in which
a person does not produce sufficient blood clotting factors
and is prone to prolonged bleeding.
HEPATIC: relating to the liver.
HEPATITIS: inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis
may have various causes, including viruses, toxins, and heavy
HEPATOCELLULAR CARCINOMA (HCC): a type
of primary liver cancer seen in some people with long-term
liver damage due to chronic hepatitis C or hepatitis B.
HEPATOLOGY: the medical specialty that
deals with the liver; a hepatologist treats liver disease.
HEPATOTOXICITY: toxic or poisonous to the
HISTOLOGICAL: refers to bodily tissue.
In HCV, histological improvement means improvement in liver
tissue, either reduced inflammation or reduced fibrosis.
INTERFERON: a naturally occurring protein in the human body
produced by the immune system. Interferon interferes with
viral replication. Genetically engineered products based on
the natural protein have been developed by several pharmaceutical
companies, and are approved for the treatment of chronic HCV
JAUNDICE: yellowing of the skin and whites
of the eyes due to high bilirubin levels in the blood. Jaundice
is often a sign of liver damage or gallbladder disease.
LIVER: a large organ on the upper right
side of the abdomen that plays an important role in the metabolism
of sugars and fats, synthesizes several proteins, and filters
toxins from the blood.
NON-NUCLEOSIDE REVERSE TRANSCRIPTASE INHIBITOR
(NNRTI): an antiviral drug that suppresses viral replication
by interfering with the action of the reverse transcriptase
enzyme. Ribavirin is an NNRTI.
PEGYLATED INTERFERON: a form of interferon
that has a long half-life in the body and can be injected
less often (typically once per week). Pegylated interferon
is approved for the treatment of HCV.
RIBAVIRIN: an antiviral medication that
is used in combination with interferon for the treatment of
chronic HCV infection.
RIBONUCLEIC ACID (RNA): a single-stranded
nucleic acid that encodes genetic information. The presence
of viral RNA in the blood indicates that a virus is actively
replicating. Hepatitis C is an RNA virus.
SUBCUTANEOUS (SQ): underneath the skin;
usually refers to a drug injected under the skin.
SUSTAINED RESPONDER (SVR): a person who
maintains a long-term response to treatment. In HCV, a sustained
responder has a long-term beneficial result from HCV treatment
(non-detectable HCV RNA) that persists after treatment has
been stopped (six months is the generally accepted time interval).
TRANSMISSION: spread of a pathogenic organism
from one person to another.
TRANSPLANT: surgical transfer of an organ
from one person to another.
VIRAL LOAD: the amount of virus (i.e.,
the HCV RNA level) that can be measured, usually in the blood.
VIRUS: a microscopic infectious particle
that invades a living organism and makes copies of itself
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