Hepatitis B and the Opioid Epidemic: Opportunities to Increase Adult Vaccination
July 30, 2019
9 a.m. HST / 12 p.m. PST / 3 p.m. EST
Recent outbreaks of hepatitis B have been linked to the opioid epidemic through injection drug use (CDC, 2018). In the U.S., there have been high rates of Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection among special and vulnerable populations, including Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AA&NHPIs). Despite the availability of a highly effective vaccine, barriers to preventing hepatitis B infection in the U.S. remain. These barriers include low rates of hepatitis B vaccination coverage among adults and increased rates of injection drug use – a major risk factor for hepatitis B – as the opioid epidemic in the U.S. continues. To prevent and eliminate hepatitis B as a U.S. public health threat, strategies to promote testing, vaccination, and linkage to care – particularly among special and vulnerable populations impacted by the opioid epidemic – must be implemented while raising awareness about the seriousness of hepatitis B and its deadly link to cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer.
- To highlight the need to address Hep B within the opioid epidemic, including a national adult Hepatitis B vaccination campaign.
- To promote opportunities that increase adult Hepatitis B vaccination rates.
- To increase awareness amongst patients and providers about the adult Hepatitis B vaccine.
Health center staff from clinical & non-clinical perspectives and from all levels of leadership; Primary Care Associations; and Health Center Controlled Networks. Other key stakeholders include government institutions and payers who work with health centers on policy and payment.
- Rita Kuwahara, MD, MIH, Hep B Fellow, AAPCHO
- Dr. Grace Wang, MD, MPH, Family Physician, International Community Health Services
- Dr. Camilla S. Graham, MD, MPH, Co-Director, Viral Hepatitis Division, Division of Infectious Disease, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School