World Hepatitis Awareness Day: ‘Find the Missing Millions’

Every year, World Hepatitis Day (WHD) stands as an opportunity for communities of the world to come together under a single theme to raise awareness on viral hepatitis. This year, the theme is ‘Find the Missing Millions.’

Abarca calls on the healthcare community to take action and raise awareness to find the “missing millions” of people living with undiagnosed hepatitis so that they may seek the treatment and support they need. Through awareness, we can save lives through education on hepatitis’ prevention, diagnosis, and treatment options.

What is Hepatitis?

Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver, in most cases, the cause is a virus. The most common types of this virus are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C.

At the links above, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides comprehensive information about the differences between each type, how they are spread, as well as details on prevention and treatment.

Today, it is believed that 290 million people are living with viral hepatitis and are unaware that they have it. In America alone, nearly 2.4 million Americans are living with the hepatitis C virus, it being the country’s deadliest infectious disease. Despite this reality, many state Medicaid programs still have several discriminatory restrictions in place that keep Americans from accessing hepatitis C treatment and in turn, are preventing the country from ending the epidemic.

The National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable (NVHR), a national coalition working to eliminate viral hepatitis, and the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School (CHLPI), have recently acclaimed Puerto Rico for removing discriminatory restrictions on access to hepatitis C treatment that were limiting more than one million Puerto Ricans who are covered by the Medicaid program from accessing life-saving medications.

In collaborative efforts made by ASES (Puerto Rico’s Health Insurance Administration), Abbvie (a research-driven biopharmaceutical company), and Abarca Health, these discriminatory barriers have been significantly reduced, increasing Puerto Rico’s rating to a “B” and formally including hepatitis C treatment in its managed care program that covers all beneficiaries. Increasing access to such treatment will help people of the island eliminate hepatitis C and improve treatment options. 

As part of Abarca’s unstoppable commitment to delivering better care to underserved populations, this step forward is an excellent milestone for Puerto Rico’s healthcare system.

Abarca is proud to be able to aid in this great achievement and is committed to the work ahead. We will continue to work with ASES to call attention to viral hepatitis in our communities and support access to the treatment programs needed.

This blog was written by Lillian Colón López, MPH, Pharm. D., Clinical Client Advisor at Abarca Health.

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