DOI: 10.1002/cld.754

Keywords

1. Hepatitis B counseling
2. Hepatitis C awareness
3. Hepatitis family screening
4. Chronic hepatitis management
5. Liver disease community health

Hepatitis B and C are viral infections that, if left untreated, can lead to serious liver damage, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. Ongoing research and community healthcare interventions play a critical role in combating these potentially deadly diseases. In the fight against Hepatitis B and C, family counseling has emerged as a vital component of comprehensive healthcare strategies aimed at prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

In a deeply insightful article recently published in Clinical Liver Disease, Kushner et al. (2019) underscore the significance of family counseling for individuals affected by Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C. By reviewing the current practices and recommending novel approaches, this important piece of scholarly work sheds light on how family counseling is not only integral for patient support but also for public health endeavors.

Hepatitis B: A Public Health Crisis Still Unfolding

Despite the availability of an effective vaccine and antiviral therapies, chronic Hepatitis B remains a substantial health issue particularly among non-U.S.-born populations (Denniston et al., 2012; Weinbaum et al., 2009). This is largely due to gaps in awareness, insufficient screening, and the lack of consistent follow-up care, notes Cohen et al. (2011). Kushner and colleagues point out that family counseling can be crucial in these instances, as it facilitates education on the transmission and the importance of testing and immunization (Terrault et al., 2018).

The Complications of Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a bloodborne pathogen, and intrafamilial transmission, although less frequent compared to Hepatitis B, remains an area of concern (Acknowledger et al., 2000). Many individuals with Hepatitis C are unaware of their infection (Denniston et al., 2012), which underscores the urgent need for improved testing and counseling. Kushner and their team emphasize the role of community-based services in increasing Hepatitis C awareness (Harris et al., 2018).

The Role of Family Counseling

The researchers suggest that family counseling should be integrated into routine care for patients with Hepatitis B and C. Counseling can provide education on how to prevent transmission within families, recognize the importance of screening, especially among household contacts, and promote the use of prophylaxis and treatment (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1984; Kushner et al., 2019).

Tracking vaccination coverage among adults and ensuring that individuals are tested and linked to care is again highlighted in the article, demonstrating a committed response to local public health needs (Williams et al., 2017).

Addressing the Challenges

The challenges in controlling Hepatitis B and C are multifaceted. Locarnini et al. (2015) mention that vaccine coverage is not universal, and there are often barriers to accessing therapy for those who are infected. Family counseling can play a role in addressing these challenges, by facilitating understanding and acceptance of these healthcare measures.

Providers must recognize that offering counseling and extending the care offered to their patient’s household contacts can drastically improve the rate of identification and management of chronic hepatitis infections (Shehab et al., 2003).

Impacts of Family Counseling Interventions

Successful interventions in the London trusts (Keel et al., 2016) and the innovative approach of utilizing a nurse-delivered home dried blood spot service have shown how proactive strategies can significantly increase the uptake of testing among household contacts. This again confirms the potential benefits of family counseling.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Treatment Improvement Protocol provides guidance on addressing viral hepatitis in individuals with substance use disorders, a demographic with an elevated risk for hepatitis infection (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2011).

The Future of Family Counseling in Hepatitis Management

Looking ahead, family counseling should become a staple of hepatitis management programs. Innovations such as the investigational hepatitis B vaccine, which has shown promising safety results (Hyer et al., 2018), further highlight the critical need for ongoing family education and support in the prevention and treatment of hepatitis.

The World Health Organization’s guidelines on Hepatitis B and C testing provide a framework for improving testing practices. Simultaneously, achieving prevention requires a substantial public policy shift, including enhanced epidemiological tracking and accessibility to vaccines and antiviral drugs (World Health Organization, 2017).

Finally, a survey by Vijayan et al. (2015) illustrated the lack of knowledge regarding transmission among Asian patients with hepatitis B, underscoring a dire need for family counseling to not only address knowledge gaps but also to encourage screening of family members for the disease.

Conclusion

Family counseling is undeniably a powerful tool in managing Hepatitis B and C. As Dr. Kushner and her colleagues (2019) illustrate, integrating such approaches into the healthcare system can have profound implications for patient care and public health management. A coordinated effort incorporating accessible testing, comprehensive counseling, proactive educational campaigns, and linkage to care services represents the forward-thinking strategy required to tackle these diseases head-on.

Through a multidisciplinary effort that engages patients, healthcare providers, community workers, and public health authorities, significant strides can be made in decreasing the prevalence and impact of Hepatitis B and C. As this literature review and aggregate of insights reveal, there is no time to lose in implementing family counseling as a pillar of hepatological healthcare.

References

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This article does not replace professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of a healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.