The need for federal attention and serious investments to combat hepatitis B in the U.S. is greater than ever. Despite a safe and highly effective vaccine, as many as 2.2 million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis B and up to 1,200 babies in the U.S. are born each year with hepatitis B infection. Acute hepatitis B infections are also rising in parts of country, as a result of the ongoing opioid crisis. Only 25% of infected individuals are aware of their infection and less than 10% of infected individuals are able to access care and receive treatment. Asian American, Pacific Islander, African immigrant communities are disproportionately impacted by hepatitis B and often face additional barriers to health care access.
Hep B United leads national and grassroots advocacy efforts to raise the profile of hepatitis B and liver cancer as urgent public health priorities and to amplify the voices of people and communities most impacted. Our advocacy goals include securing increased federal funding for hepatitis B and liver cancer research and prevention programs, ensuring access to health care and affordable medications, and fighting hepatitis B-related stigma and institutional discrimination.
Hep B United Advocacy Priorities
Increasing funding for hepatitis B surveillance and prevention programs
The tools to eliminate viral hepatitis in the U.S. exist, but achieving this will require a significant investment. Providing state and local health departments and other key stakeholders with adequate funding to provide viral hepatitis services is integral to stopping the spread of both hepatitis B and C and successfully ending the epidemic of viral hepatitis.
Finding a cure for hepatitis B by increasing funding for hepatitis B and liver cancer research
Although hepatitis B is preventable and treatable, there is still no cure for the disease. Only seven medications are approved to manage chronic hepatitis B infection, none are curative, most require lifelong use, and often only reduce the likelihood of death due to liver disease by 40-60%. In recent years, a cure was discovered for hepatitis C. With increased prioritization and federal funding for hepatitis B research, a cure can be developed for hepatitis B as well!
Improving adult hepatitis B vaccination coverage
While hepatitis B vaccine coverage in infants has increased to 84% worldwide, the HBV vaccination rate for adults over 18 years old in the U.S. is only around 25%. Rates are estimated to be even lower among injection drug users, who are at high risk of contracting HBV. Low rates of HBV vaccine coverage represent a missed opportunity in preventing hepatitis B infection. It is particularly important to increase HBV vaccination coverage among young adults born prior to 1991, when the HBV vaccine became recommended for all infants at birth.