States going at slow pace developing hepatitis plans

Lack of funding and resources, combined with competing demands, help explain why only a handful of states have hepatitis prevention plans in place, according to a recently completed survey.

"It’s pretty disheartening," says Scott Connor, a researcher at the Atlanta-based Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE), which developed the survey.

As a result of the findings, CSTE awarded $20,000 in competitive grants last year to six states in efforts to help develop plans.

As the survey showed, states have a long way to go before they adequately address the needs for hepatitis control and prevention. Although half of the 40 states and territories that responded to the survey have begun writing plans, only eight have completed them.

The states listed several barriers to completion, the most common being lack of personnel resources (62%), lack of funding (57%), and competing demands (42%).

Other findings from the survey include:

  • Only 19% of states had funds dedicated to hepatitis prevention plans, and one-third had no hepatitis planning support.
  • Most states had fewer than two full-time employees dedicated to hepatitis prevention planning. There are only about 30 hepatitis C coordinators in the country.
  • Only about 15% had a line item in the state budget for hepatitis A, B, or C. Only 20% had total hepatitis plan budgets of more than $200,000.
  • More than one-third (37%) had less than $50,000 set aside for adult hepatitis B vaccination.
  • Only 42% provided partner notification as part of their hepatitis outreach activities.
  • Nearly half (47%) offered no hepatitis C counseling and testing at publicly funded sites.
  • Only 35% had a mechanism for referring clients with chronic hepatitis B or C for medical evaluation and possible treatment.
  • Only 30% had completed hepatitis C prevalence estimates statewide.