Care, screening and education—ANTHC Liver Disease & Hepatitis Program Services: Part 3 in a series on ANTHC support and prevention against liver disease and hepatitisJuly 24, 2015
One in 12 persons globally is living with viral hepatitis B or C. ANTHC’s Liver Disease & Hepatitis Program is recognizing World Hepatitis Day July 28. Please join us and stand with those living with viral hepatitis. Through prevention education, vaccination and treatment, hepatitis B and C can become diseases of the past.
The Liver Disease & Hepatitis Program (LDHP) has daily clinics in ANMC’s Internal Medicine Outpatient Clinic. Provider staff includes Drs. Brian McMahon, Youssef Barbour, Stephen Livingston and Prabhu Gounder, and nurse practitioners Annette Hewitt and Lisa Townshend-Bulson. The LDHP nurse team, with more than 100 years of combined experience, provides clinical support to help manage thousands of patients living with chronic liver disease throughout the state. LDHP staff provide support through clinic follow up, phone calls and reminder letters. Throughout the year, the program holds field clinics in the communities of Barrow, Kotzebue, Nome, Bethel, Dillingham, Kodiak, Fairbanks, Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan.
Fibroscan, also known as transient elastography, is FDA-approved ultrasound imaging technology that has recently arrived at ANMC. It measures liver stiffness, which correlates with the amount of scarring (fibrosis) in the liver. The ANMC Internal Medicine Clinic is the first facility in Alaska to acquire a Fibroscan device; it helps LDHP clinicians decide how much fibrosis a patient with hepatitis C has prior to initiating treatment. In many cases, Fibroscan imaging replaces an invasive liver biopsy.
In 2012 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended hepatitis C screening for all persons born between 1945 and 1965. This baby boomer generation has the highest rates of hepatitis C, many of them unaware they have the disease. The LDHP encourages all providers to do a one-time hepatitis C test of baby boomers, as they are more likely to have had hepatitis C for many years and are at highest risk for serious liver disease.
Provider education has been a key component for implementing screening and clinical guidelines on liver disease. Continuing education is presented to hub, subclinical regional providers, and staff at each field clinic. Additional continuing education credits, including pharmacology credits for nurse practitioners, are offered monthly through LiverConnect. The next LiverConnect will be Aug. 11 and the topic will be Hepatitis C Treatment for Field Providers in Alaska.
For more information about the prevention and education services of the Liver Disease & Hepatitis Program, please visit www.anthc.org/hep.
For more information about World Hepatitis Day, visit www.who.int/campaigns/hepatitis-day/2015/event/en/.