Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

Here You Can Read About A New Focus on Hepatitis

  The White House’s budget request to Congress included an $11 billion ask to tackle the spread of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) over the next five years.  Though it’s not a crisis that’s well-known or understood, public health efforts in the last 10 years have made strides toward prevention and treatment.  Direct-acting antivirals developed less than a decade ago have been proven effective in 95 percent of the people who take a curative pill for 8 to 12 weeks.  The challenge has been getting infected persons in for diagnosis and moving them toward treatment.  For rural communities, the rise in prevalence has been labeled epidemic and closely related to injection drug use. Data show a substantial number of people are unaware they’re infected; of those with some kind of public or private insurance, only a third are actually treated.  Left untreated, HCV can lead to liver failure, cancer, and death.  The proposed federal program includes a significant push for screening and treatment – accelerating the availability of point-of-care diagnostic tests and providing broad access to medication – with a focus on populations at greatest risk for infection: Medicaid beneficiaries, justice-involved populations, people without insurance, and American Indian and Alaska Native individuals who are treated through the Indian Health Service. Also last week: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated recommendations for hepatitis B virus screening and testing.  Considered more common than HCV, hepatitis B causes more liver-related cancer and death.

Approaching Deadline for Rural HIV and Aging Challenge

 The Administration for Community Living will award $500,000 in cash prizes for innovative and effective pilot solutions that address the needs of people in rural communities who are aging with HIV. Some potential solutions may be: enhancing the capacity of community-based organizations; increasing engagement/reducing isolation for long-term survivors; or addressing social determinants of health such as transportation or access to physical activities.  Up to 10 winners may be selected to each receive a prize of up to $15,000. Because these are prize competitions, there are no reporting requirements, deliverables, or other restrictions associated with federal grants.  The participants selected to receive a prize for Phase 1, Design of Concept, may compete for Phase 2, Development of Solution. The date was extended to February 14, 2023.

New Resource: E-Cigarette Use, Vaping, and Oral Health

The CareQuest Institute for Oral Health released a new visual report, “Electronic Cigarette Use, Vaping, and Oral Health.” The report explains how individuals who use e-cigarettes are significantly more likely to report having periodontal (gum) disease compared to those who do not smoke or use other nicotine products. E-cigarette use is linked with signs of periodontal disease such as increased plaque, deeper periodontal pockets around the teeth, and bone loss.

Click here to view the report.

The Number of Uninsured Children Improved Slightly During the Pandemic

The number of uninsured children in Pennsylvania improved during the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to the federal continuous coverage provision that prevents states from disenrolling children and families from Medicaid during the public health emergency, according to the State of Children’s Health report by Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children. Pennsylvania’s child uninsured rate improved to 4.4% from 4.6% between 2019 and 2021 as families weathered the pandemic storm under the umbrella of public health coverage, with Medicaid enrollees having uninterrupted access to health insurance that connects them to doctor visits, immunizations, and well-visits that screen for physical and mental health. Learn more.

Health Centers Hit a Historic Milestone of Patients Served

Our nation’s health centers do invaluable work to reduce health disparities and advance health equity in communities across the country. Emerging from the worst of the pandemic, health centers are now facing unprecedented demand for services. They’re providing affordable, high-quality primary health care to millions of people nationwide. HRSA expects to publish the 2021 Uniform Data System (UDS) data on Monday, August 8. The data will appear in HRSA’s Data Warehouse on the Health Center Program Data and Reporting webpages. Join a Tuesday, August 9, 1:00 – 2:00 pm HRSA webinar to learn about trends in the 2021 data on health center patient demographics, staffing, and clinical quality measures. Attendees will gain insights into health centers’ growth, recovery, and performance. Register here.

New from the CDC: Rural Cardiovascular Disease Mortality Data

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shared a new resource from the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention.  The Local Trends in Heart Disease and Stroke Mortality report provides detailed maps and graphics documenting county-level heart disease and stroke mortality and trends within each state. The report includes data for most counties in all states, including the most rural. This report can be used to enhance and inform cardiovascular disease prevention and treatment programs and policies.

For each state, the Local Trends in Heart Disease and Stroke Mortality report includes:

  • County-level maps of death rates for coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke
  • County-level maps of trends in CHD and stroke death rates
  • Figures depicting comparisons of county-level death rates and historical trends for CHD & stroke
  • All graphics are presented by age group (ages 35-64; ages 65 and older)
  • A CSV file containing all data used to make the report.

The Local Trends in Heart Disease and Stroke Mortality report for each state, along with the underlying dataset, is available by request. To get the report, please contact Adam Vaughan at Additionally, the data are available on