2016 Hep B United National Coalition Marks World Hepatitis Day with Call for Elimination of the Silent Epidemic of Hepatitis B

HepBUnitedWASHINGTON, D.C. (July 2016) – Hep B United, a national coalition established by the Hepatitis B Foundation and the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO) to address the silent epidemic of hepatitis B, will host its fourth annual summit in Washington, D.C., July 27 to 29, to promote screening and prevention strategies to further its mission to eliminate hepatitis B in the United States.

Hepatitis B is caused by a virus and is the world’s most common, serious liver infection. It is also the deadliest vaccine-preventable disease, with nearly 1 million people dying each year from hepatitis B. In the United States, an estimated 2 million Americans are chronically infected with hepatitis B, yet most do not know it.

“Hepatitis B is entirely preventable, treatable and can be diagnosed with a simple blood test,” said Joan Block, RN, BSN, Hepatitis B Foundation executive director and Hep B United co-chair. “Without early diagnosis and intervention, one in four people living with hepatitis B will die prematurely from liver failure or liver cancer.”

The Hep B United summit is the largest assembly of hepatitis B leaders from community coalitions, national nonprofit organizations, and federal public health agencies in the United States. Meeting sessions will focus on building capacity and sustaining local hepatitis B coalitions, helping patients navigate through complex insurance and health care systems, and discussing the “Know Hepatitis B” campaign, which was developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and co-branded with Hep B United.

The summit also will include visits to Capitol Hill, as leaders in the fight against hepatitis B tell federal legislators the critical need for resources to support education, outreach, screening and treatment programs.

“If community organizations can learn from each other and develop effective ways to educate people about hepatitis B to get them screened and referred to medical care in the early stages of their infection, we can succeed in preventing new cases, save health care dollars and, most importantly, save lives,” said Jeffrey Caballero, MPH, AAPCHO executive director and Hep B United co-chair.

The 2016 Hep B United summit is part of world-wide events to mark World Hepatitis Day, observed each year on July 28. The World Health Organization launched World Hepatitis Day in 2010 to raise awareness about viral hepatitis and to call for access to treatment, better prevention programs and government action.

Hep B United brings together 30 community coalition members across the country located in 26 cities, 14 states, and Washington, D.C. The coalition focuses its work primarily in the disproportionately impacted Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. As one in 12 people of these ethnic groups live with hepatitis B, there is an urgent need to increase hepatitis B testing, vaccination and referral to care in these high-risk populations.

During the Hep B United summit, Hep B United and its CDC partners will present four community leaders with the 2016 Hep B Champion Awards in recognition of their collaborative and successful initiatives to address hepatitis B in their communities:

Alex Shirreffs, MPH, Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinator with the Philadelphia Department of Health, is recognized for her collaboration with Hep B United Philadelphia to screen local Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. Her work ensures that hepatitis B will remain a public health priority and she serves as a critical liaison between Hep B United and other Adult Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinators nationwide.

Mohammed Abdul-Kadir, MPH, MSIS, coordinator of the Hepatitis B Coalition of Washington, (now part of International Community Health Services in Seattle), is recognized for his commitment to eradicating hepatitis B in Washington’s AAPI communities by bringing together stakeholders from across the state and providing free screening, education and linkage to care for thousands of individuals.

Nadine Shiroma, a national hepatitis B civil rights advocate from Seattle, has worked tirelessly with the Hepatitis B Foundation to eliminate hepatitis B-related discrimination in the United States. She is recognized for advocacy on behalf of hepatitis B-infected health care students, which resulted in hepatitis B being added as a protected condition under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The fight now has been taken to the U.S. Department of Defense, which bars infected applicants and discharges military personnel diagnosed with hepatitis B.

Moon Chen, Ph.D., director of the Asian American Network for Cancer Awareness, Research and Training (AANCART) in Sacramento, Calif., is recognized for making hepatitis B a priority for academic and public health research, and for continuing to research and identify effective hepatitis B prevention, screening and referral-to-care intervention models that can be replicated nationwide.

To interview the Hep B Champion award winners or other speakers from the Hep B United summit, contact Kate Moraras, senior program director of the Hepatitis B Foundation and director of Hep B United.

About Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B is the world’s most common serious liver infection and the primary cause of liver cancer, which is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the world. Two billion people (1 in 3) have been infected with the hepatitis B virus, more than 240 million are chronically infected, and almost 1 million people die each year from hepatitis B-related liver failure and liver cancer. In the U.S., one in 20 Americans has been infected with hepatitis B, and an estimated 2 million are chronically infected. The hepatitis B virus is transmitted through blood, unprotected sex, unsterile needles, and from an infected mother to her newborn during delivery. Although hepatitis B is preventable and treatable, there is still no complete cure for this deadly liver infection.

About Hep B United: Hep B United is a national coalition established by the Hepatitis B Foundation and the Association of Asian and Pacific Community Health Organizations to address the public health challenge of hepatitis B by increasing awareness, screening, vaccination and linkage to care for all Americans, with a particular focus on Asian-American and Pacific Islander populations that are disproportionately impacted. To learn more, visit www.hepbunited.org.

About the Hepatitis B Foundation: The Hepatitis B Foundation is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization solely dedicated to finding a cure for hepatitis B and improving the quality of life for those affected worldwide through research, education and patient advocacy. To learn more, go to http://www.hepb.org, read our blog at http://wp.hepb.org, follow us on Twitter @HepBFoundation, find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/hepbfoundation or call 215-489-4900.

About the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organization: The Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organization (AAPCHO) is a national association of 35 community health organizations dedicated to promoting advocacy, collaboration, and leadership that improves the health status and access of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiian, and other Pacific Islanders in the United States. To learn more, visit www.aapcho.org.

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