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May 2022: Hepatitis Awareness Month

WHEREAS, viral hepatitis primarily affects the liver, and is the leading cause of liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplantation in the United States; and,


WHEREAS, the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) are the two most common types of viral hepatitis. Both can produce chronic (long-term) infections that can remain asymptomatic for decades. When symptoms develop, it is often a sign of advanced liver disease. Without a blood test, a person may never know if they have HBV or HCV infection; and,


WHEREAS, in April 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published universal HCV testing recommendations. The CDC now recommends one-time HCV testing among all adults 18 years and older, among pregnant persons during every pregnancy, periodic HCV testing among persons with continued risk factors, HCV testing for anyone with recognized exposures and conditions, and for anyone who requests it, regardless of their disclosure of risk; and,


WHEREAS, HBV and HCV can both be transmitted at birth from mother to baby. There is a vaccine that can prevent the transmission of HBV, as well as effective HCV direct-acting antivirals to cure more than 95% of persons living with HCV with only once daily oral therapy for as little as 8-12 weeks; and,


WHEREAS, in November 2021, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices published new HBV vaccination recommendations. The CDC now recommends HBV vaccination for all adults ages 19 to 59 years. Adults aged 60 years or older with risk factors should be vaccinated against HBV, and adults 60 years of age and older without known risk factors for HBV infection may receive HBV vaccines; and,


WHEREAS, injection drug use is a primary risk factor for hepatitis C acquisition through the sharing of equipment used to prepare or inject drugs. Syringe services programs (SSPs) are community-based programs that prevent the spread of hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV through the provision of sterile supplies, access to HIV and hepatitis C testing and linkage to care, hepatitis A and B vaccinations, referral to substance use treatment, and overdose prevention. There are 83 SSPs across the state of Michigan to provide these critical services; and,


WHEREAS, in April 2021, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) launched the We Treat Hep C Initiative to increase access to curative hepatitis C treatment among Michigan Medicaid and Healthy Michigan Plan beneficiaries by removing prior authorization criteria and the prescriber and sobriety requirement; and,


WHEREAS, MDHHS, in partnership with Henry Ford Health System and Wayne State University have launched complimentary HCV clinical consultation programs and resources to help providers feel more comfortable and confident in treating and managing patients with HCV, and;

WHEREAS, HCV elimination is achievable with HCV direct-acting antiviral treatments being over 95% effective at curing individuals of their HCV infection in as little as eight-12 weeks; and,


WHEREAS, this month, we join with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to raise awareness of viral hepatitis and harm reduction services and the importance of vaccination, testing, and treatment to eliminate viral hepatitis;


NOW, THEREFORE, I, Gretchen Whitmer, governor of Michigan, do hereby proclaim May 19, 2022 as Hepatitis Testing Day and May 2022 as Hepatitis Awareness Month in Michigan.