ALEXANDRIA, Va., April 9, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) launched ACT-First: A Practical Introduction to Liver Disease. "ACT" stands for AASLD Curriculum and Training" and "First" refers to first-line providers. This educational program for primary care and other interested health care providers consists of a web-based curriculum in hepatology that will be provided free of cost to any interested healthcare provider in or out of the United States. The curriculum launched at the annual meeting of the American College of Physicians (ACP).
"We need this program because there is a shortage of providers treating patients with liver diseases," said Guadalupe Garcia-Tsao, MD, Professor of Medicine at Yale University and a key contributor to ACT-First. The curriculum will cover most of the common liver diseases and, given the number of affected patients, the first two available units are dedicated to hepatitis B and hepatitis C, respectively.
Providers undergoing the pilot program will be able to recognize patients at risk for hepatitis B and C and will be able to screen and evaluate patients with positive viral serologies and determine those who are appropriate candidates for antiviral therapy. "AASLD knows there is a need to make available an easily accessible hepatology curriculum that would guide primary care providers -- many of whom may not feel comfortable treating patients with liver disease -- through the identification, evaluation, and treatment of patients with liver disease," said Dr. Garcia-Tsao.
Recent policy developments and scientific breakthroughs have created the need for a program such as this:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended a one-time, age-based screening for hepatitis C in 2012.
- The US Preventive Services Task Force gave hepatitis C a grade of "B" in 2013 allowing for payment by Medicare and private insurers for testing with no copayment by patient.
- Interferon-free, antiviral, oral medicines were approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2013.
The age-based screening of baby boomers is predicted to diagnose around 800,000 patients with hepatitis C. AASLD is a medical society of specialists that understands the need for the primary care community to become more aware of these new developments and to increase the workforce of healthcare providers involved in the care of patients with viral hepatitis. FDA approval of these new drugs and the promise of numerous drugs about to be approved prompted AASLD to partner with the Infectious Disease Society of America and the International Antiviral Society-USA to develop a hepatitis C practice guidance. That guidance is available on the Web free of charge and received 65,000 unique visitors since it was published online on January 29, 2014.
AASLD produced ACT-First in association with the ACP, CDC, Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes), and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Addressing AASLD's collaboration in developing ACT-First, Dr. Garcia-Tsao said, "One of the strengths of this curriculum is that we got the point of view and input from primary providers themselves by collaborating with ACP, CDC, Project ECHO and VA. By collaborating, we were able to tailor the curriculum to the needs of primary care providers."
AASLD is the leading medical organization for advancing the science and practice of hepatology. Founded by physicians in 1950, AASLD's vision is to prevent and cure liver diseases.
Visit www.aasld.org for more information.
Media Contact: Gregory Bologna
Telephone: (703) 299-9766
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SOURCE American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD)