The City of Houston (COH), located primarily within Harris County, experiences an unrealized burden of viral hepatitis. To enhance viral hepatitis surveillance in Houston the Houston Health Department (HHD) proposes to collect and use timely, comprehensive, and quality surveillance data to detect and respond to outbreaks and identify and prioritize those most in need of hepatitis prevention and care services. The HHD will expand viral hepatitis prevention services utilizing the improved surveillance data to create the Viral Hepatitis Elimination Plan, increase access to viral hepatitis testing and treatment, and increase education and awareness among people living with viral hepatitis, providers, community health workers and the general public.
In 2017, the rate of acute hepatitis B (HBV) in Harris County mirrors the statewide rate of 0.5 per 100,000 persons. However, the 0.5 rate of hepatitis A (HAV) shows a slight increase over the state rate of 0.4. Texas has seen an increasing rate of hepatitis C (HCV) since 2016. The most common risk factors reported were injection drug use (IDU), sexual contact, sexual contact among men who have sex with men (MSM).1 People living with HIV (PLWH) have also been identified as a high-priority population. In 2017, about 4% of new HIV diagnoses in Houston reported injection drug use. There were 37 cases of new HIV and 38 new cases of stage 3 HIV diagnosed in individuals with a history of injection drug use in Houston/Harris County.2 At 71%, male-male sexual contact was the most reported HIV transmission risk factor in Houston/Harris County. The burden of other sexually transmitted infections is also high in Houston/Harris County, with over 20,000 cases of chlamydia, 8,000 case of gonorrhea and 3,000 cases of syphilis annually.
With funding from the PS21-2103 grant application, the HHD proposes to (1) establish a comprehensive and complete viral hepatitis surveillance program, (2) reduce new viral hepatitis infections, (3) increase access to treatment and care services for people living with viral hepatitis, (4) improve health outcomes of people living with viral hepatitis, (5) reduce the number of deaths among people living with viral hepatitis, (6) reduce viral hepatitis health disparities and (7) decrease viral hepatitis infections from drug use.
Through the implementation of the activities outlined in the proposal, the HHD will increase viral hepatitis surveillance capacity and achieve the goals outlined in the Viral Hepatitis Elimination Plan.
2 The 2018 Houston Area Integrated Epidemiologic Profile for HIV Prevention and Care Services Planning: