Do you ever feel like life is kicking you in the butt? Or do you ever feel like life is dragging you down? Though it may be hard preventing negativity from pulling you into a rut when you have a chronic condition, like hepatitis B, being more positive can help lift your spirits. When you do this, you can improve your health-related quality of life!
Though there is no set definition for health-related quality of life, the CDC defines it as an individual’s or a group’s perceived physical and mental health over time. Health related quality of life explains how a person’s physical, emotional, mental and social aspects impact their overall life. Health-related quality of life can impact your overall well-being, which the CDC defines as “a positive outcome that is meaningful for people.” Basically, improving health-related quality of life and overall well-being can help people feel that things are going well in their lives. Ultimately, this can help decrease stress and improve how well someone manages a chronic illness. This can be very useful for those of us living with the physical, emotional and social aspects of chronic hepatitis B..
Here are some tips and suggestions on how you can improve your health-related quality of life:
Make healthy lifestyle changes. You can develop a healthy lifestyle by starting a healthy diet, an exercise routine, or incorporating daily meditation. If you are don’t know where to start, try to find a workout buddy, join an online support group, or look through the many free apps that are available. There are also YouTube videos that can help you find workout routines and diet plans. And you don’t have to do it all at once – even small changes can make a big difference!
Keep a journal. This is a great opportunity to chronicle your progress towards a healthy lifestyle, and keep track of other milestones in your life. “Gratitude journals” are also very popular – you can spend time writing about one thing a day that you are thankful for – many people enjoy looking back over time to see how all of those “gratitudes” add up. People often say that this helps them to feel better and even appreciate life more. You can search online for “journal topics” or “journal exercises” to help you start a journal.
Find inspiration. Get some inspiration and tips from others who are going through the same thing! You can check out our #justB storytelling campaign about stories of how people cope with hepatitis B and liver cancer. We also have an empowering story from a liver cancer survivor.
Connect with a good support system. Spend time with people who make you feel better emotionally and physically! When you are in good company, you will feel more positive and happy too. You should also find out who is on your HBV Team!
These are just a few tips and suggestions on how you can improve your health-related quality of life. There are many articles and resources online with more tips and suggestions on how to improve your quality of and feel more positive! Some websites include CDC’s Health-Related Quality of Life program, advice on how to cope with your chronic illness from HealthCentral, and Huffington Post’s Habits to Improve your Life.
Remember that everyone goes through ups and downs in life, especially those of us living with a chronic illness. But working to make small, positive changes in your life gives you the power to live your best life!
2017 was a big year for us at the Hepatitis B Foundation! I’ll give you a rundown of some of our accomplishments over the year.
We started the year off with a fresh new look! We got a new logo!
We also launched our national storytelling campaign, “#justB: Real people sharing real stories of hepatitis B,” in partnership with StoryCenter and AAPCHO. Fifteen people have shared their stories to bring a human face to hepatitis B and help increase public awareness, decrease stigma and discrimination, and promote testing and treatment for hepatitis B. Look for new stories in the coming year!
We have had a few additions to the HBF leadership team this year. Dr. Nat Brown, Ram Kapur, Dr. Su Wang, and Dr. Carol Brosgart all joined our board of directors. Dr. Francis Chisari and Dr. Robert Perrillo joined the scientific and medical advisory board.
After 25 years of service, our amazing and dedicated co-founder Joan Block retired in June. Without Joan, we would not have many of the programs we have today, especially the ones that provide multi-platform, multi-lingual educational materials, newsletters, and email and telephone helplines. She also pioneered a robust advocacy presence in Washington, D.C. that has resulted in hepatitis B becoming a protected condition under the Americans With Disabilities Act to prevent discrimination, and increased federal funding for hepatitis B and liver cancer research.
May was definitely a big month. Not only because we had numerous screening events and celebrations for Hepatitis Awareness Month, but also because we launched our Hep B Cure Campaign. The Hep B Cure Campaign is a national advocacy campaign to Double the Federal Funding within five years for hepatitis B and liver cancer research and public health. In March, we convened a virtual workshop with more than 30 of the world’s leading scientists to determine the research needed to find a cure for hepatitis B, and identify specific research projects in virology, immunology, and liver cancer, as well as strategies for expanding clinical research for therapeutic drug testing. The Hep B Cure Campaign is calling for increased federal investment to accelerate the pace of research for a cure, which will also significantly improve health and economic outcomes. Our full plan can be found in our “Roadmap for a Cure,” which can be found on our website.
Every year, we hold the crystal ball gala, our signature fundraising event. This event gives us a chance to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to hepatitis B, and to our local Doylestown community. This year, Professor Mario Rizzetto, MD was awarded the Baruch S. Blumberg Prize for his discovery of the hepatitis delta virus. Marvin and Dee Ann Woodall were honored with the 2017 Community Commitment Award, and our own Joan Block was recognized with the distinguished Founders’ Award.
Just last week, it was announced that Hepatitis B Foundation’s president and co-founder, Dr. Timothy Block, was named a 2017 National Academy of Inventors Fellow! This is the highest professional accolade given to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and welfare of society. Congratulations Dr. Block!
Also during this year, our programs expanded, and our reach grew!
We updated our website in 2016 and we’re so glad to see that you have found us. We’re close to 1.5 million unique page views for the year, which is about 4,000 people visiting our website every day!
The Hepatitis B Foundation grew its’ social media reach to over 14,500 followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We’re close to 10,000 likes on Facebook! Hopefully, we’ll hit 10 K before the end of the year! Ask your friends to follow us and like the page!
The Hepatitis Delta Connect program had a breakout year since its 2016 launch with over 11,000 website views from over 4,000 patients and providers in 92 countries! Hepatitis Delta Connect reaches 4,650 people on social media through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Not bad for the first-of-its kind outreach and awareness program!
With Hep B United, our national coalition, we distributed 6 mini-grants this year and held 12 hep B virtual training seminars reaching 2,000 live attendees and nearly 6,000 online viewers! We also had a record number of attendees at our annual Hep B United Summit during World Hepatitis Day in Washington D.C.! Together, our partners screened 4,649 people, educated 11,884 people, gave out 13,112 hepatitis B handouts, and were featured in 2 newspapers, 1 TV appearance (496,189 views), and 1 social media video. Hep B United has a social media reach that includes over 1,500 people across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Our newest program, the #justB storytelling campaign, has been very successful so far. We now have 15 storytellers, ranging in age from 21 to 75, representing 10 U.S. states, and sharing a diversity of stories around HBV and liver cancer, transplantation, treatment, stigma and disclosure. The #justB digital stories were released on May 1, 2017, in recognition of Hepatitis Awareness Month, on HBF’s YouTube Channel and at www.hepb.org/justb. Since the launch, there have been over 60,000 views of the 18 multi-lingual videos! We want to thank our partners for helping promote these videos, including CDC Division of Viral Hepatitis Shot By Shot in California. And We are very proud that a few of the videos were selected for screening at the American Public Health Association Annual Film Festival and the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival.
Our storytellers have been very busy this year! They have conducted local hepatitis B education in their home towns, and have given interviews with print, online and radio news outlets! They have even written blogs to help spread awareness about hepatitis B! Our storytellers have also been on the move – they have made multiple visits to Washington, DC – to participate in a Congressional briefing and reception, an FDA hearing, and an in-person panel at the Hep B United Summit.
With our local efforts in Philadelphia, the Hep B United Philadelphia program screened 100 people, distributed nearly 700 HBV handouts through 27 community events and educated approximately 650 individuals on hepatitis B. Throughout the year we hosted 123 student volunteers from local University organizations including Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association (APAMSA) that provide BMI, blood pressure, blood glucose and vision screenings for any individual in attendance of our health fairs or screening events. Our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts have a following of 1,400 people!
Our outreach team has been very busy this year addressing your questions and concerns about hep B. Our counselors have answered over 2,200 emails, 3,650 questions on social media, and spent over 66 hours on over 400 phone calls.
2018 will be an even bigger year! We will be releasing our “Journey to the Cure” talk show and expanding our campus in Doylestown. We will continue to work every day to find a cure for hepatitis B and improve the quality of life for all those affected. We want to thank all of our partners, supporters and friends in the U.S. and around the world.
Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat (@hepbfoundation) for all the updates in the next year!
The holidays are over and it’s time for a fresh new year- a fresh new start! Have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet? Do you need some suggestions or help creating your list? Here are some ideas!
One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions in the US is to be healthier, whether it is to eat healthier, get more exercise, and/or to head over to the gym more often. There are studies that continue to show the importance of exercise, which favorably impacts the health of your liver as well. Although there is no specific diet for chronic hepatitis B, studies show that eating cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower is good for the liver. Green, leafy vegetables are also good for the liver. All of these veggies tend to naturally protect the liver against chemicals from the environment. The American Cancer Society’s diet, which includes low fat, low cholesterol, and high fiber foods is a good, general diet to follow. It is also good to avoid processed foods and foods from “fast food restaurants”. These foods along with too many foods high in saturated fats, and foods or sugary drinks with refined sugars and flours may result in fatty liver disease, which can also harm the liver. When possible, eat whole grains and brown rice. For more suggestions, check out the World Health Organization’s healthy diet and CDC’s tips for staying healthy.
See your doctor more often.
We encourage those chronically infected to be regularly monitored by a liver specialist, treated when necessary, and to make lifestyle changes that help keep the liver healthy. The most important thing is to find a doctor who is knowledgeable about hepatitis B, who can help manage your infection and check the health of your liver on a regular basis. The doctor will take blood tests, along with a physical examination of the abdominal area and perhaps an ultrasound, to determine the health of the liver. Talk to the doctor and see what he or she recommends. Don’t forget to get copies of test results for personal files to see how test results change over time
Stop drinking/limit alcohol.
Chronic hepatitis B and alcohol is a dangerous mixture. Studies have shown that even small amounts of alcohol can cause damage to an already weakened liver. Avoiding alcohol is one decision someone can make that will greatly reduce the risk of further liver disease. It is also important to avoid smoking and other environmental toxins. For example, avoid inhaling fumes from paint, paint thinners, glue and household cleaning products, which may contain chemicals that could damage the liver. Keep in mind that everything that you eat, drink, breathe in or absorb through the skin is eventually filtered by your liver and toxins are removed. If you can limit the toxins in your body, your liver will benefit.
Pursue your dreams.
Don’t let your hepatitis B status stop you!! Find friends, family members, colleagues, and/or doctors who can support and encourage you to learn about your hep B status. Become an advocate for yourself, just like our #justB storytellers!
Start off your resolutions with attainable goals! You don’t have to quit cold turkey and completely eliminate certain foods. Take it step by step! Keeping a journal and tracking your progress will help you keep an eye on those resolutions this year. Even if you break your New Year’s resolutions, don’t be discouraged! Everyone goes through pitfalls and experiences lows. The important thing is to start over again when you break your resolutions!
Check out our previous post on New Year’s resolutions for more ideas for your resolution this year!
The holidays are a joyous time as family and friends gather for parties, dinners and get-togethers. However, they can also be a difficult, stressful time on so many levels, and especially for those who might not yet have disclosed their hepatitis B to loved ones. You may have been recently diagnosed, or decided this is the year you’re going to let them know about your status. If you’re not there yet, that’s okay, but consider making this the year you choose to disclose.
Enjoy and celebrate the holiday cheer, but …alcoholic beverages may be an issue during this time, and it may be tempting to indulge. The most important thing to do is not pick up that drink no matter what! Hepatitis B and alcohol is a dangerous combination. Here are some tips that may help you politely refuse a drink:
Practice saying no
Prepare a reason for not drinking (i.e., “Sorry, I’m taking mediation and I can’t drink.” or “My stomach is upset and I want to enjoy all this food.”)
Leave the event early if you feel uncomfortable.
Find others who are not drinking.
Choose a non-alcoholic drink – sparkling water with fruit is a healthy option!
Volunteer to be the designated driver. You may suddenly find you have many friends!
You might want to think long and hard about disclosing your status to coworkers and acquaintances. Only you know for sure, but family and close friends can become a new source of support for you moving forward. If the holidays inspire you to share your status, you may start with talking about your family’s health history. Even though hepatitis B is not genetic and does not run in families like some other chronic diseases, it is possible that you may have hepatitis B because you were exposed to it from an infected family member, possibly at birth or by accidental household exposure; 90% of babies and 50% of young children who were infected with hepatitis B become chronically infected. It is also important to talk about hepatitis B if there is a history of liver disease and cancer in your family. Having hepatitis B can put you at an increased risk of developing liver disease and liver cancer during your lifetime.
Here are some other considerations:
Choose a time when there will not be too many distractions.
Think about whether your loved ones will be open and accepting.
Disclosure can be scary and make you anxious! When you are disclosing to a loved one, their response is out of your control, but their response might surprise you. Be prepared with simple explanations about hepatitis B. A Google search may highlight frightening statistics, so be sure to reassure loved ones that HBV is controllable and manageable.
Take a look at the videos from our #justB storytellers about how HBV has impacted their lives, and share them with family members. We must all do what we can to break the silence about hepatitis B so we can get more people tested and into care, and reduce stigma and discrimination!
For more tips on how to navigate the holidays with hepatitis B, check out our previous post here.
Flu season is upon us! It usually ranges from the winter into early spring. It’s important that you get your flu shot, especially if you or a family member has a chronic disease such as hepatitis B.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get the flu vaccine every year. Flu viruses change constantly from season to season and can even mutate during a single flu season. It takes 2 weeks for antibodies to develop, so get your flu shot today!
There are some people who cannot get the flu shot, including certain age groups, those with health complications, and those with allergies. However, there are still ways people can protect against getting sick. Be sure to wash your hands to prevent the spread of germs. If you feel you are sick, stay home from work or school.
While we all know antiviral drugs are effective against the hepatitis B virus, researchers have also developed antivirals that can help us fight the flu once it is confirmed someone are infected. People at high risk of serious flu complications (such as children younger than 2 years, adults 65 and older, pregnant women, and people with chronic hepatitis B) and people who simply get very sick with the flu should talk to their doctor about getting one of three available flu antiviral drugs–oseltamivir, zanamivir, or peramivir.
According to CDC, prompt treatment with a flu antiviral can mean the difference between having a mild case versus a very serious one that can potentially land you in the hospital.
Treatment with antivirals works best when begun within 48 hours of getting sick, but can still help if administered later during your illness. Antivirals are effective in all age and risk groups. Studies show some doctors do not prescribe antiviral drugs to peopleat high risk of complications from the flu, so be assertive and ask your doctor for them if you have the flu!
It’s time to get your flu shot! It will help you, your family, and friends get protected against the flu. To find out where you can get a flu shot, click here.
For more information about hepatitis B and the flu vaccine, check out our previous posts on the flu here, here, and here.
World AIDS Day was last Friday, December 1st. It is a day dedicated to raising awareness about HIV and AIDS. However, it is also a great opportunity to discuss the possibility of coinfection with hepatitis B virus, HBV.
Dr. John Ward, MD, Director, Division of Viral Hepatitis, CDC talks about hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV epidemics in the United States.
Hepatitis B (HBV) and HIV/AIDs have similar modes of transmission. They can be transmitted through direct contact with blood, or sexual transmission (both heterosexual and MSM). Unfortunately, people who are high risk for HIV are also at risk for HBV, though hepatitis B is 50-100 times more infectious than HIV. Fortunately hepatitis B is a vaccine preventable disease and the vaccine is recommended for individuals living with chronic HIV.
Nearly one third of people who are infected with HIV are also infected with hepatitis B or hepatitis C (HCV).2 To break down the numbers further, about 10% of people with HIV also have hepatitis B, and about 25% of people with HIV also have hepatitis C.2 Liver complications due to HBV and HCV infections have become the most common non-AIDS-related cause of death for people who are HIV-positive.3
Who is at risk of HIV and HBV co-infection? Because both infections have similar transmission routes, injection drug use and unprotected sex (sex without condoms) are risk factors for both infections.4 However, there are additional risk factors for HIV and for HBV that put people at risk4
It is important that people who are at risk of both diseases are tested! HIV-positive people who are exposed to HBV are more likely to develop a chronic HBV infection and other liver associated complications, such as liver-related morbidity and mortality if they are infected with HBV.1
If a person is co-infected with both HBV and HIV, management of both diseases can be complicated, so a visit to the appropriate specialists is vital.3 Some anti-retrovirals, which are usually prescribed to treat HIV, can eventually lead to antiviral resistance or liver-associated problems.3 One or both infections will require treatment and must be carefully managed. Treatment differs from person to person .4
Weibaum, C.M., Williams, I., Mast, E.E., Wang, S.A., Finelli, L., Wasley, A., Neitzel, S.M, & Ward, J.W. (2008). Recommendations forMorbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), 57(RR08), 1-20. Retrieved from: Identification and Public Health Management of Persons with Chronic Hepatitis B Infection. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5708a1.htm
The documentary film, produced by The Vaccine Makers Project, follows the unknown story of a man who “had more of an impact on [people’s] lives compared to Einstein.” The film tells the story of a courageous and gutsy scientist, Dr. Maurice R. Hilleman, and the elimination of diseases of children. With his unwavering determination, Dr. Hilleman invented the first-ever vaccine against a human cancer (the hepatitis B vaccine), developed the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) combination vaccine, and prevented pandemic flu. During World War II he developed an urgently needed vaccine for Japanese B encephalitis in 30 days.
He is responsible for more than half of the vaccines children receive today and is credited with saving more than eight million lives every year. Now through exclusive interviews with Dr. Hilleman and his peers, rare archival footage, and 3-D animation, this new documentary puts a human face to vaccine science, revealing the character that drove this bold, complex, and heroic man.
When parents began choosing not to vaccinate their children in the 1990s, a cruel irony became clear; Hilleman’s unprecedented successes have allowed us to forget just how devastating childhood diseases can be. The documentary reminds us by allowing us to see these diseases as part of the film.
Community members from Philadelphia and Bucks County came for the film screening as they enjoyed fun movie snacks. They also enjoyed a panel discussion moderated by Timothy Block, PhD, with the documentary director and esteemed representatives from scientific community. Expert panelists included Donald Rayne Mitchell, Paul Offit, MD, David Oshinsky, PhD, and Walter Tsou, MD, MPH. They shared their thoughts on the documentary, Dr. Hilleman’s life, and the future of vaccines. Mitchell and Dr. Offit expressed that the documentary film was created to “inspire a kid or to get into [scientific] work someday,” and to “put a human face on vaccines.”
For more information about the film, click here. If you are interested in learning more about the hepatitis B vaccine, click here.
Be on the look out for a special “preview” vlog of the film screening at the end of December 2017.
Thanksgiving is not only a day to eat turkey or remind us to remember what we are thankful for; it is also National Family History Day!!1 This holiday can be used an opportunity for families to discuss and record health problems that run through the family, as this helps us live longer and healthier. 1
There are many chronic diseases that may run through multiple generations of a family. 1 Doctors can predict whether or not you could have a chronic disease just by knowing if your parents, grandparents, and other relatives have had it. 1 That is why knowing your family health history is an important and powerful screening tool.1 You can change unhealthy behaviors, reduce your risk of diseases, and know when you should be screened when you learn about what diseases run through your family. 2
Hepatitis B is not like other chronic diseases, where if your parents have it, your genes make you more prone to it. Hepatitis B is not genetic. The hepatitis B virus is transmitted through blood and infected body fluids. This can happen through direct blood-to-blood contact, unprotected sex, body piercings or tattooing, intravenous drug use, and as a result of unsafe medical or dental procedures. It can also be transmitted from an hepatitis B positive mother to her baby at birth.
Even though hepatitis B is not genetic, you should still include it in your family health history discussion! The most common method of hepatitis B transmission worldwide is from mother-to-child due to the blood exchange that happens during child birth. Pregnant women who are infected with hepatitis B can transmit the virus to their newborns during delivery. 90% of babies exposed to hepatitis B at birth will become chronically infected with hepatitis B, which increases their risk of serious liver disease later in life. Knowing your family’s hepatitis B history can help you figure out if you and other loved ones should get screened for or vaccinated to protect against hepatitis B.
Knowing if you have a family history of liver cancer can also be important, since hepatitis B is one of the leading causes of liver cancer. If your family has a history of hepatitis B related liver cancer, then you may have a greater risk of developing liver damage or liver cancer if you have hepatitis B. Be sure to discuss a family history of liver cancer with your liver specialist.
If you need some advice on how to start the conversation about your family health history, read more here. You can also use the US Department of Health & Human Services’s My Family Health Portrait Web tool to help start this dialogue and learn how to share family history information at a future doctor visit.
You don’t need to wait until this Thanksgiving to talk about your family health history. You can talk to your family about your family health history and hepatitis B status RIGHT NOW!