Hepatitis B Leaders Mark World Hepatitis Day with Pledge to Find the Missing Millions

Hep B United National Coalition Convenes in Washington DC for 7th Annual Summit

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 2019) –Hep B United, a national coalition established by the Hepatitis B Foundation (HBF) and the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO) to address the silent epidemic of hepatitis B, will host its seventh annual summit in Washington, D.C., July 23rd to 25th. The summit brings together over 100 community leaders, advocates, and people with hepatitis B to promote screening and prevention strategies and advocate for equitable access to health care to further its mission to eliminate hepatitis B in the United States. Worldwide, nearly two-thirds of those infected with hepatitis B- over 200 million people- are unaware of that they are infected. Summit attendees will address ways to identify those “missing millions” who do not yet know that they are living with this often-silent disease.

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-related disease worldwide. In the United States, up to 2.2 million Americans are chronically infected with hepatitis B, yet most do not know it. Without early diagnosis and intervention, one in four people living with hepatitis B will die prematurely from liver failure or liver cancer.

“We can save millions of lives in the U.S. and worldwide by using the tools we have and building much-needed infrastructure to prevent, diagnose and treat hepatitis B,” said Chari Cohen, DrPH, MPH, senior vice president of the Hepatitis B Foundation and co-chair of Hep B United. “The annual Hep B United Summit brings our partners together to share best practices and develop strategies for the coming year to increase national attention and resources to address the epidemic of hepatitis B.”

The Hep B United summit is the largest convening of hepatitis B leaders from community coalitions, national nonprofit organizations, individuals and family members affected by hepatitis B, and public health agencies in the United States. Hep B United is comprised of more than 40 community coalitions across the country located in 29 cities, 20 states, and Washington, D.C. The summit is part of global events to mark World Hepatitis Day, observed each year on July 28th, the birthday of Dr. Baruch Blumberg, Nobel Laureate who discovered the hepatitis B virus and developed the first vaccine. The summit’s theme, “Eliminating Hepatitis B: Local Change, Global Impact,” includes sessions that share innovative local, national, and global programs to prevent, diagnose and treat hepatitis B. The summit will also feature #justB, Hepatitis B Foundation’s national storytelling campaign that tells the personal stories of people affected by hepatitis B to increase public awareness and combat stigma and discrimination.

“The summit brings together community stakeholders, advocates, and leaders who are committed to increasing diagnosis, vaccination, and care for Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and other at-risk communities affected by hepatitis B. It is an opportunity for our community to mobilize and engage with each other, our elected officials and our federal partners to develop innovative and impactful methods to prevent hepatitis B and improve quality of care for living with this disease,” said Jeffrey Caballero, AAPCHO executive director and Hep B United co-chair.

The summit includes visits to Capitol Hill, as leaders in the fight against hepatitis B ask federal legislators for increased resources to support research for hepatitis B and liver cancer, education, vaccination, testing, and treatment programs. The coalition also will host a Congressional reception on July 23rd to recognize Congressional and community champions.

During the reception, Hep B United will present a Hepatitis B Congressional Champion Award to Congresswoman Grace Meng representing New York’s 6th district. Representative Grace Meng is co-chair of the Congressional Hepatitis Caucus and has worked to increase awareness and funding for viral hepatitis on Capitol Hill.

Hep B United will also present two community leaders with the 2019 Hep B Champion Awards in recognition of their collaborative and successful initiatives to address hepatitis B:

Richard Andrews (Houston, TX) Dr. Richard Andrews is co-chair of the National Task Force on Hepatitis B and a family medicine physician specializing in hepatitis B at HOPE Clinic in Houston, Texas. Dr. Andrews has led the Task Force in improving hepatitis B health care provider education training around the U.S. He has also co-led efforts to develop a new, simplified algorithm to encourage the management of patients with hepatitis B in the primary care setting.

Xuan Phan (Gulfport, MS) Ms. Xuan Phan is a hepatitis B case worker with Mercy Housing and Human Development in Gulfport, Mississippi. Ms. Phan has been instrumental in leading efforts to increase hepatitis B screening and education in the Vietnamese community. Ms. Phan is also a #justB Campaign Storyteller. As the daughter of Vietnamese refugees and now working as a hepatitis B caseworker, Ms. Phan understands the struggles and barriers many immigrant families face in advocating for their health. Her story can be viewed at: https://youtu.be/foLR_2yRcsE

In addition, the Hepatitis B Foundation will present two special service awards:

Alan Brownstein (Cold Spring, NY) Mr. Brownstein will receive the Lifetime Commitment Award for his many years of dedicated service to addressing hepatitis B in the U.S. Mr. Brownstein has worked tirelessly to ensure that hepatitis B is prioritized as an urgent public health issue. Since 2016, he has spearheaded the Hepatitis B Cure Campaign, an advocacy effort to increase funding for research to find a cure for hepatitis B. Under his leadership, substantial progress has led to new opportunities for hepatitis B research funding in the U.S.

Paula Wong (New York, NY) Ms. Wong will receive the Community Commitment award for her dedicated work on the Health + Education for Asian Livers (H+EAL) program in NYC high schools, which trains medical students to provide hepatitis B education to high school students from ethnic communities at high-risk for hepatitis B. The students then share the information with their family to increase awareness and screening. A success in NYC, Ms. Wong has guided community leaders in other cities to replicate H+EAL in their local schools.

About Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B is one of the world’s most common infections and the primary cause of liver cancer, which is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the world. Two billion people (1 in 3) have been infected with the hepatitis B virus, more than 292 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 up to 2.2 million are chronically infected. The hepatitis B virus is transmitted through blood, unprotected sex, unsterile needles, and from an infected mother to her newborn due to blood exchange 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 (AAPCHO) 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, visit www.hepb.org, read our blog at hepb.org/blog, follow us on Twitter @HepBFoundation, find us on Facebook at 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 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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