Prevention of viral hepatitis is a major challenge for the nation’s public health, scientific and medical communities. Acute and chronic liver diseases caused by hepatitis viruses result in substantial morbidity and mortality in the United States. Highly efficacious vaccines are available to prevent new hepatitis A virus (HAV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections. However, hepatitis A and hepatitis B continue to be among the most commonly reported vaccine-preventable diseases. No vaccine is available to prevent hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections; thus, prevention of new HCV infections depends on directing primary prevention activities to persons at increased risk of infection. In addition to the burden of acute viral hepatitis in the United States, an estimated 1.25 million persons with chronic HBV infection and 2.7 million persons with chronic HCV infection are at risk for developing chronic liver diseases, including cirrhosis and liver cancer. These persons need to be identified for medical follow-up, including counseling, to prevent further harm to their liver, interventions to reduce risks for transmitting the infection to others, and evaluation for antiviral treatment.
The conference focus will be on the prevention of viral hepatitis during all stages of life (perinatal, infancy, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood). Workshops will address a wide spectrum of challenges including perinatal and childhood prevention activities; providing hepatitis prevention services to high-risk individuals; addressing health disparities; designing, implementing, and evaluating successful outreach, education, and counseling activities; and identifying and overcoming barriers to integrating viral hepatitis activities into existing program settings. The conference will provide important scientific and programmatic updates and training for public health and other professionals working with persons in need of viral hepatitis prevention services. In addition, multiple networking opportunities to share materials, innovative strategies, methods, program successes, products, and other resources will be available throughout the conference.
Anyone should attend who works with viral hepatitis prevention programs, or provides services to individuals at risk for viral hepatitis, including public health professionals, counselors, administrators, health policy makers, educators, and others interested in the prevention and control of viral hepatitis in persons at any stage of life. Persons working in any of the following program or service areas should plan to attend: perinatal hepatitis B prevention, immunization, STD, HIV, correctional health care, substance abuse prevention or treatment, hepatitis surveillance, homeless population services, mental health services, and any other program or service areas for persons at increased risk for viral hepatitis.
As a result of attending this conference, participants will be able to:
Outline strategies for hepatitis prevention for infants, children, adolescents, and adults.
Identify specific intervention strategies that address the needs of individuals in high-risk groups including, but not limited to, infants born to HBsAg-positive mothers, clients engaged in injection drug use (IDU)/substance abuse, clients in STD/HIV clinics, men who have sex with men, homeless populations, and inmates in correctional settings.
Identify specific intervention strategies that address the viral hepatitis prevention needs of individuals in groups with health disparities including, but not limited to, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, American Indians/Alaska Natives, and African-Americans.
Describe methods for integrating and evaluating viral hepatitis prevention services into existing programs.
Identify and access communication, education, and training needs and available resources for viral hepatitis prevention and control; evaluate the effectiveness of education and training methods.