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Tag Archives: Hepatitis B Outreach

The Public Health Popularity Contest: Why You’ve Never Heard of Hepatitis B

charlotte_lee_hep_b-1Please welcome guest blogger Charlotte Lee, a pre-med Duke University Senior who has a passion for global health. Charlotte recently learned first hand how viral hepatitis  disproportionately impacts her community and how it tragically touched her own family.  

I walked into the first day of my internship ready to take on what I thought were the major public health crises of the world – malaria, AIDS, avian flu. Instead, my supervisor gave me a hefty stack of literature on hepatitis B. Sure, as a premed student I knew that hepatitis had something to do with the liver, but I was shocked to find out that hepatitis B was the most common serious liver infection in the world—one that chronically affects over 350 million people worldwide, including 1 in 12 Asian Americans—and I had never heard of it.

As a 21-year old Asian American who is passionate about global health, I felt cheated to only now discover that there is an infectious disease disproportionately affecting my community. Somebody should have told me about this! To then find out that it was completely vaccine-preventable – somebody should have told everyone about this!

About halfway through my internship, I found out that my grandfather died from viral hepatitis that he contracted through a blood transfusion. Suddenly the disease had a face, and it was a smiling man with wide rimmed glasses who used to sit me on his lap and feed me popcorn. It now feels like my duty to spread the word.

Hepatitis B is transmitted through blood or body fluids and causes deadly liver disease, including liver cancer, in 1 out of every 4 chronically infected people. Meanwhile, the famous West Nile Virus causes serious illness in less than 1% of infected people.

So, what makes this disease so easy to ignore? Hepatitis B is unfortunately an invisible disease; it can take up to 20-30 years before symptoms appear, at which time cirrhosis or liver cancer may have already developed. Hepatitis B is a silent killer and it affects a population invisible to the media and policy.  Anyone can get hepatitis B; however, people born in countries outside the US that have not instituted a strong hepatitis B testing and vaccine program have a large population (2 out of 3 people) who are unaware they are infected. Most get the disease at birth from their mothers who are chronically infected with hepatitis B. Many are impoverished and disenfranchised. Asian Americans make up more than half of hepatitis B cases in the US, but those from many other countries around the world are also at risk for having the disease.

However, the “it won’t happen to me, so I don’t care” rule doesn’t work for all diseases. Most people in the US don’t consider themselves at risk for AIDS, malaria, or tuberculosis, yet those diseases have plenty of name recognition.

One thing that AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis all have in common is their deadliness. AIDS killed 1.47 million people in 2010. But did you know that viral hepatitis (hepatitis B & C combined) killed 1.44 million that same year?

Its symptomless nature also makes it hard to visualize. While other diseases invoke graphic images of illness, hepatitis devastates the liver. Most people probably don’t really know where their liver is located.

What frustrates me most is that it is a preventable disease, one that we can eradicate. The hepatitis B vaccine is one of the safest and most effective immunizations available, and it protects you for life. The CDC recommends all babies receive the vaccination at birth, yet many major hospitals in NYC are not immunizing newborns, with some vaccination rates as low as 20%.

Hepatitis B needs public health champions to get it into the spotlight. Policies need to be passed to fund much-needed education, surveillance, and treatment programs. Doctors should be educated about it, tests should be automatically ordered, and the government should pay for everyone to be vaccinated. This system doesn’t yet exist, but thankfully there are people working tirelessly towards it.

Monday was World Hepatitis Day 2014. This year, the Viral Hepatitis Testing Act was introduced in the House and Senate to provide $80 million over three years for prevention, testing, and linkage to care. This is the second term this bill has been introduced, and now it’s time to pass it. Locally, the New York City Council just introduced a $750K viral hepatitis initiative for 2015. And just last week, Councilwoman Margaret Chin was on NBC talking about the first ever NYC Hepatitis B Awareness Week. My internship will soon end, but advocacy never rests. There is always more to be done.

charlotte_leeCharlotte Lee is a premed Duke University senior, where she studies Public Policy with minors in Global Health and Chemistry. This summer, she has been working on hepatitis B policy issues at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center in New York City, where she was co-coordinator of the first-ever NYC Hepatitis B Awareness Week. She is passionate about health disparities and aspires to be an OB/GYN and women’s health advocate. Her biggest claim to fame is that she may have discovered a new species of sand fly last summer in the Peruvian Amazon (confirmation still pending). 

Join Hep B United, CDC DVH, HBF, AAPCHO and CDC NPIN for a Twitter Chat!

Mark you calendars! Join Hep B United,CDC Division of Viral Hepatitis , HBF, AAPCHO and CDC NPIN for a Twitter Chat on Tuesday, November 19th, 3pm EST to discuss the Know Hepatitis B campaign and what Hep B United, partners and coalition members are doing to raise awareness and increase hepatitis B testing and vaccination among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). Hepatitis B is the leading cause of liver cancer and a major health disparity among AAPIs who are disproportionately impacted by HBV. Continue reading "Join Hep B United, CDC DVH, HBF, AAPCHO and CDC NPIN for a Twitter Chat!"

World Hepatitis Day in Ghana

Ghanians lined up for a viral hepatitis screening at last year's World Hepatitis Day event in Tamale, Ghana (Northern Region)

HBF is pleased to share World Hepatitis Day plans of our friend Theobald Owusu-Ansah of the Theobald Hepatitis B Foundation in Ghana. The Foundation is also a voting member of the World Hepatitis Alliance. 

On July 28th, 2013, The Theobald Hepatitis B Foundation and the Hepatitis Coalition of Ghana will join the World with one voice to celebrate World Hepatitis Day in Sunyani at Victoria Park. In attendance will be the Chiefs, members of Parliament, District Chief Executives, Municipal Chief Executives, Assembly Members and all the Opinion Leaders of the Region.

The Theobald Hepatitis B Foundation is a non-profit organization whose main aim is to educate and create awareness of hepatitis B and C to the general public, ranging from the causes, and symptoms of viral hepatitis, to preventive measures.

On World Hepatitis Day, the activities will start with an early morning Float with music and dance throughout the principal streets of Sunyani, along with the members and volunteers of the Foundation and the Coalition distributing educational materials to the crowds. These leaflets, posters, banners and stickers are part of the ongoing media blast that will draw the public’s attention to problem of chronic hepatitis B among the people of Ghana.

Free screening and hepatitis B vaccinations will be ongoing throughout the day’s activities. Resource persons will be delivering their messages and educating the general public about viral hepatitis. It is important that the people learn and understand whether or not they are positive or negative for viral hepatitis, and if they are positive, what is next.

The Delegation of the Government and other health care professionals will educate the public on Viral Hepatitis Policies and the way forward. Dieticians will also take the general public through the kind of food and diet one needs to eat, and the importance of avoiding alcohol, in order to defuse the public cry of the cost of prevention and treatment of hepatitis B.

Participating organizations will then take the opportunity to appeal for funds from the government officials and the Chiefs of the region present, in order to enable us to successfully organize our last programme of the year.

At the end of the event, the public will be provided with advice, and directed to seek medical information from qualified health professionals, in order to avoid falling into wrong hands of those trying to sell false cures for those with hepatitis B.

Please join us for our World Hepatitis Day activities in Victoria Park if you are in Sunyani, Ghana.

Theobald Owusu Ansah
Theobald Hepatitis B Foundation
P.O. Box GP 21325 Accra-Ghana:

Phone: 00233-20-8269214
theobald2003@yahoo.com
Theobald Hepatitis B Foundation website

 

Hepatitis B Awareness Month at HBF

Daniel Chen - "Hep B Hero", HBF Public Health Program Manager, today's guest blogger

“B a hero!” is not simply a slightly-cheesy-yet-very-awesome campaign theme and slogan. It is a statement that we stand behind and strive for. It is about having the courage to stand up for the disenfranchised among us. It is about taking the time and effort to improve the lives of those we could have easily ignored. It is about not just doing the right thing, but going above and beyond.

Over 900 people. That’s the number of people we provided free hepatitis B screening tests for within just the past 12 months. The screening tests were offered at 17 different events that took place all around the city.

Over 70 organizations. That’s the number of partners we currently work with to serve the community and empower the underserved. Besides hosting screening events, our partners also help us raise awareness through education, provide in-language patient follow up service for linkage to care, connect us with new partners, and many more aspects of our work in the community.

Over 30 vaccine clinics. That’s the number of vaccine clinics we will have held in collaboration with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health at community sites by the end of 2013. By hosting the clinics at community sites, we remove the transportation and language barriers and make vaccines much more accessible for community members.

The list of accomplishments goes on. And all of this became possible because Philadelphia, as a city, has decided to “B a hero”. So get involved this May and help us celebrate the Hepatitis Awareness Month by coming out to one of our events. Come and support heroes everywhere in our fight against hepatitis B.

Friday, May 17

Hepatitis B Awareness & Media Event

11:30am-12:15pm @ Rocky Steps (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy)

Join us in celebration of Hepatitis Awareness Month and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month by running up the Rocky Steps with us! All participants get a “B a hero” t-shirt and a cape. City Councilman David Oh will present a city council resolution, and a surprise performance will take place when we reach the middle level of the steps.

Saturday, June 1

Independence Dragon Boat Regatta

8am-5pm @ Schuylkill River (Kelly Drive, near St. John’s Boathouse)

Come cheer for team Philadelphia Hep B Heroes as well paddle our way to victory! The regatta is a family event with lots of entertainment such as cultural performances, rock climbing, and of course the exciting dragon boat races. So visit the Hepatitis B Foundation/Team Philadelphia Hep B Heroes tent for some snacks and cheer for our heroes.

Additional event:

Saturday, May 11

Hepatitis B Screening & Mini Health Fair

10am-1pm @ AmeriCare Pharmacy (600 Washington Avenue, Unit 18E, Philadelphia)

May Hepatitis Awareness Month would be incomplete without a screening event. In collaboration with the Jefferson Medical College APAMSA medical students and the AmeriCare Pharmacy, we will be providing free hepatitis B screening tests for those who were born in Asia or whose parents were born in Asia. Additional service such as blood pressure and blood glucose measurements will also be available at this event.

The Hepatitis B Foundation Participates in Liver Capitol Hill Day, 2013 – A Personal Reflection

Yesterday the Hepatitis B Foundation participated in the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) annual “Liver Capitol Hill Day” visits. This is a great opportunity to get in front of state Senators and Congressmen in order to make requests known to them. It is also an opportunity to educate. As a constituent, your state representatives are interested in what you have to say. The “Asks” for the day were to support funding for liver related research, prevention strategies, and support of liver patient access to quality medical care.  Specifically, we were asking for NIH funding growth, rather than the 20% cut over the last decade, along with support of government agencies such as the CDC Division of Viral Hepatitis, and the delivery of health care systems and payment policies for patients living with liver diseases.  Prevention is also critical with specific asks for new, one-time hepatitis C testing and screening for hepatitis B for at-risk patients. As we are all aware, budgets are tight and we will all soon feel the effects of the Sequester. Research programs may no longer be funded, or severely cut, public health agencies and programs will be cut, and patients who are currently receiving medical assistance will suffer. For treated patients with HBV, it is essential nothing interrupts the daily antiviral use, and of course HBV and liver cancer prevention through screening, vaccination and surveillance is both necessary and cost effective in the long run.

Due to the Sequester, the day started in a panic for many Hill visitors. I was fortunate to arrive early – a good thing since I waited in a long security line for 45 minutes that wrapped around the building. As Maryland residents, Dave Li and I met with staff from both Senator Ben Cardin’s (D) and Senator Barbara Mikulski’s (D) offices.  Senator Mikulski was recently appointed the Chairperson of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee. This means she will have a great deal of influence on budget and spending decisions. We were told that due to the Sequester, the Continuing Resolution (CR) will remain in place for the remainder of the 2013, but Senator Mikulski is optimistic that the FY14 and future funding for the NIH, specifically, will be maintained. As a Maryland Senator, this is extremely important to Sen. Mikulski on many fronts. Senator Cardin has been making visits to agencies in MD, including the NIH, and researchers are frustrated they are unable to do their work.  Both Senator Cardin and Senator Mikulski support federal agencies (such as the CDC, Division of Viral Hepatitis, Public Health Agency etc.) and initiatives that provide care and services to meet the health care needs of Marylanders.  Fortunately this supports the Health and U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Viral Hepatitis Action Plan initiatives, since both Senators are supportive of prevention and surveillance initiatives.  Dave and I walked out of our Senate meeting feeling pretty good.

Unfortunately, the outlook was not so optimistic on the House side. We visited staffers from Congressman Chris Van Hollen and Congressman Elijah Cummings offices. Although they are working on budgets, they are meeting with opposition and resigned to deep cuts in their supported programs.  Congressman Cumming’s staffer was pleased to hear an optimistic viewpoint from Mikulski’s office.  Although clearly mixed signals from our House and Senate meetings, we can only hope that Congress will eventually work together and move forward with continued funding of agencies and programs that support those living with liver disease.

Please remember that your state Senators and Representatives have been voted to serve YOU. It is imperative that your voice be heard. If you don’t let them know what is important to you, important programs and agencies will be drastically cut.  You do not need to be a political machine to participate. Don’t know your Representative?   Find your Rep. on-line by putting in your zip code or state to learn who you need to contact. Find your Senator, Governor and Congressmen here. Call the Capitol switchboard’s toll free number at 1-888-876-6242 , or send an email  or letter with your asks, and your personal stories. Be sure your message is clear and concise, and personalize it if you can. You can visit your Representative or Senator when you are visiting Washington, D. C., or in the local, state office. Let your voice be heard – especially during this very difficult time.

Cast Your Vote for HBF in the Philly DoGooder Video Contest!

HBF is entering the Philly DoGooder contest with the fantastic video by HBF’s own, Daniel Chen. Click and watch below. There will be 5 winners total, so if we win we’ll be splitting the $250,000 prize money with 4 other organizations. Help us win and get more resources to empower the community by voting once a day!

Voting is easy! Click on the big “VOTE FOR THIS ENTRY” button directly below the video and you will directed to log into your Facebook account. If you don’t have a Facebook account, you can register with your email so you can vote. Every vote counts, so be sure to share this information with family and friends and on all of your social media outlets. Don’t forget to vote once every 24 hours!

World Hepatitis Day Reflection: Asian Institute of Medical Sciences, Hyderabad Pakistan

Thank you to Prof., Dr. Muhammad Sadik Memon, MBBS, FCPS (Gastro), FCPS (Med), MACP, MAGA,  for his personal reflection from World Hepatitis Day, 2012 events in Pakistan.

In order to raise awareness on World Hepatitis  Day, Saturday, 28th of July 2012, the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology of the Asian Institute Of Medical Sciences, organized a public awareness and open discussion seminar.

Gastroenterologists, family physicians, GPs, postgraduate students and para- medical staff all participated in the open discussion.

The program was started in the name of “Almighty Allah” and a recitation from the Holy Quran.

Dr Iqbal Haroon, Director of Hajiyani Hospital, was the moderator of the open discussion.

“It  is closer than you think” was the theme of this year’s World Hepatitis Day, and the open discussion focused on raising awareness on the different forms of viral  hepatitis: what they are, how they are transmitted, who is at risk, and the various methods of prevention and treatment.

Professor, Dr. Sadik  Memon, organizer of this event,  said that in Pakistan, many patients have lost their lives at the hands of quacks, so Pakistan needs the strictest possible laws to fight against these quacks, and must eradicate these deadly liver diseases.

Dr. Sadik Memon further described how in Pakistan millions of people are infected with HBV . He added that every 10th to 12th individual in the Pakistani population is infected with hepatitis B or C ,which far exceeds the numbers from the last big earthquake  in Pakistan. It is essential that Pakistani doctors unite to save human lives and spare them of these deadly diseases.

The most important aspects of prevention are hepatitis B vaccination, the screening of blood products, sterilized equipments and better hygiene standards in barber shops.

Dr. Waqar, focal person of the Government Hepatitis Program, discussed the efforts of the Sindh government regarding the hepatitis program.  He said that thousands of peoples from Sindh are receiving free interferon and anti- viral therapy from Zakat and Bait-ul-mal funds.

Before the end of open discussion Dr. Aamir Ghouri gave thanks to the audience, the guests of honor, and also the Roche Pharmaceutical company for sponsoring such a wonderful event in this blessed Month of Razman.

After completing the open discussion, DUA, (prayer) was performed for patients who are suffering from liver diseases by the Asian  Institute of Medical Sciences staff. Another open discussion was followed by Iftaar dinner. It was a memorable World Hepatitis Day.

Raising awareness and Enabling Protective Action in an Affected Community in Australia: A work in progress…

Welcome Guest Blogger Yvonne Drazic. She is a PhD candidate at James Cook University in Cairns, Far North Queensland, Australia. Her research focus is on reducing the rate of undiagnosed and untreated chronic hepatitis B, in migrant communities from endemic areas, particularly the local Hmong community. Yvonne lives with chronic hepatitis B, and feels privileged to be one of the less than 3% of hepatitis B cases treated in Australia. She gives back in so many ways, and is also a list parent on the HB-List, an online patient forum

As a research student from tropical Far North Queensland in Australia, I am grateful that today’s technology allows me to be part of the global hepatitis B community. My goal is to help our local Hmong community of about 700 people to prevent future repercussions of undetected and untreated chronic hepatitis B (CHB). Having CHB myself, I was amazed to learn how many people miss out on vital medical care because they are unaware of their infection, or of its potential consequences. At present, the incidence of hepatitis B-related liver cancer is rising in Australia because undiagnosed CHB is doing much more harm than newly acquired infections in adults. The majority of affected people in Australia are migrants from endemic areas and Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander people who were mostly infected at birth or in early childhood. Yet, less than 3% of cases are currently receiving antiviral therapy (Carville & Cowie, 2012).

I chose to focus on the Hmong community because studies in the U.S. show a particularly high CHB prevalence (~15%) in this population (Kowdley, Wang, Welch, Roberts, & Brosgart, 2011). And sure enough, when talking to members of the community, I heard sad stories of family members getting sick or dying from liver disease. Hepatitis B as a threat to public health has long been neglected in Australia, compared to the attention given to HIV and hepatitis C. However, based on a National Hepatitis B Needs assessment (Wallace, McNally, & Richmond, 2008) and other reports that showed an urgent need for a co-ordinated public health response, the first National Hepatitis B Strategy was finally released in 2010. The strategy highlights priority action areas such as raising awareness in patients and doctors, improving screening and diagnosis practices, and removing barriers in culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) populations.

In Australia, pregnant women are routinely screened for hepatitis B. However, research suggests that many who test positive during pregnancy do not receive adequate follow-up care (Guirgis, Zekry, Yan, Bu, & Lee, 2009). In addition, recent studies indicate that CHB awareness is still low in Australian general practitioners (GPs), and that many patients are not managed according to guidelines (Dev, Nguyen, Munafo, Hardie, & Iacono, 2011; Guirgis, Yan, Bu, & Zekry, 2011). Therefore, in order to achieve improvements in early detection and timely referral for treatment, increasing GP involvement is a priority.

My project comprises (1) an assessment of knowledge, current practice, awareness of resources and educational preferences of local GPs; (2) assessments (pre- and post) and an appropriate intervention in the Hmong community (all based on behavioural theory); and (3) an assessment of pregnant women and new mothers. At the time of writing, data collection from GPs is under way.

Community engagement is, of course, an ongoing process. The project has the support of a community leader who is providing invaluable information about what may and may not work in his community. Initial information about the project was recently distributed. Building trust and showing that my motives are genuine takes time and it is important to let things develop instead of pushing ahead too fast. The fact that I have CHB myself may help to convey the message that it is okay and even necessary to talk about hepatitis B. Normalization assists in the removal of stigma.

More of my work to be shared in another blog. A big thank you to the special people who have been inspiring and encouraging me to do this work and keep offering tremendous, ongoing support.

Yvonne

References:

Carville, K. S., & Cowie, B. C. (2012). Recognising the role of infection: preventing liver cancer in special populations. Cancer Forum, 36(1), 21-24.

Dev, A., Nguyen, J., Munafo, L., Hardie, E., & Iacono, L. (2011). Chronic hepatitis B: A clinical audit of GP management. Australian Family Physician, 40(7), 533-537.

Guirgis, M., Yan, K., Bu, Y. M., & Zekry, A. (2011). A study into general practitioners’ knowledge and management of viral hepatitis in the migrant population. Internal Medicine Journal, Accepted article. doi: 10.1111/j.1445-5994.2011.02440.x

Guirgis, M., Zekry, A., Yan, K., Bu, Y. M., & Lee, A. (2009). Chronic hepatitis B infection in an Australian antenatal population: Seroprevalence and opportunities for better outcomes. Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 24(6), 998-1001. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1746.2009.05841.x

Kowdley, K., Wang, C., Welch, S., Roberts, H., & Brosgart, C. (2011). Prevalence of chronic hepatitis B among foreign-born persons living in the United States by country of origin. Hepatology, Accepted preprint.

Wallace, J., McNally, S., & Richmond, J. (2008). National hepatitis B needs assessment. Melbourne: Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health, and Society, La Trobe University.

 

 

Join CDC and HBF for a World Hepatitis Day Twitter Chat

Are you planning to join us for the World Hepatitis Day Twitter Chat on Friday, July 27th? The CDC and HBF will be hosting a Twitter Chat at 2 pm EDT.  Are you thinking, “What… me??  I don’t know how to use twitter!!” Well, get-on- board with twitter before July 27th and join us!

What is twitter?  Twitter allows you to stay connected or exchange short messages called tweets with friends, family, co-workers, organizations and partners, and the world at large. You can tweet from your computer, your laptop, i-pad or smartphone. You can use it to update your status on the go, or in HBF’s case, use it to educate and raise hepatitis B awareness.  We also use it to send out current or new information on hepatitis B and to make our resources available to others.  If you are a hepatitis B advocate, twitter is a great outlet to get your message out there.

What is a handle? Your twitter username is your handle. For example HBF’s twitter handle is @HepBFoundation. Handles are preceded with a @symbol. You can find us at www.twitter.com/HepBFoundation.

What is a tweet? A tweet is basically a short message or status that you post to twitter. You can compose a tweet by clicking on the blue compose button in the top right corner, or from the “Compose New Tweet” box (top left after you login) Tweets are kept at 140 characters or less. If you make your tweets about 10 characters shorter, you’ll leave room for others to easily retweet your messages.  Don’t worry. Twitter does the counting for you.

Your message can be just that – a message: “2 billion people in the world have been infected with #hepatitis B”, or you can add a reference to the source such as HBF’s website where you can find this quote  A URL shortener will be invoked to take that long URLs like  http://www.hepb.org/hepb/statistics.htm  and turn it into: http://ow.ly/ciWvu

What is a retweet? A retweet or RT is when you repost someone else’s tweet so it will be shared with your followers. It lets everyone know you like that message and lets you spread the word.  Retweeting is a great way to get started if you’re a little nervous about composing your own tweets.  To retweet, all you need to do is put your cursor over a tweet that you like, and you’ll see retweet highlighted. Click and you’ve just done your first retweet!

What’s a hashtag? A hashtag allows you to categorize messages in twitter.  You precede a keyword with a hashtag, or the “#” symbol, to note a topic of interest. I typically use simple twitter hashtags such as #hepatitis B, or #HBV in my messages so that others interested in HBV topics will see my tweets. Rather than put them at the end of a tweet, I typically work them into my message. For example: “There are 400 million people chronically infected with #hepatitis B in the world.” Lots of viral hepatitis followers are using the #hepatitis hashtag, so they are sure to see my posted tweet. The hashtag will allow them to easily search twitter from the search box (top right) in twitter and retweet my message.  It might also encourage them to follow me since hepatitis B is an interest that we share. When I see tweeps tweeting with the #hepatitis hashtag, I tend to follow them, and if they continue to post good content, I might even add them to one of my twitter lists.

What is a Tweep? A tweep is a twitter user.

Getting Started.  All you need to get started is an email account, a picture or logo (though twitter will assign you their default image if you don’t upload one, so don’t let that stop you.), and a statement about you or your organization.

Go to www.twitter.com and sign up for a new account. It’s really pretty simple. If you have your email and image ready to upload, you can be in and out in a few minutes. Twitter will walk you through the whole thing – nothing tricky!

So what should you do to become familiar with twitter? Assuming you plan to follow what’s new in the world of hepatitis B, our twitter chat on the 27th and viral hepatitis events beyond World Hepatitis Day, then consider a few things:

Who do you want to follow? Consider following viral hepatitis organizations like the Hepatitis B Foundation (@HepBfoundation), CDCs Division of Viral Hepatitis (@cdchep), World Hepatitis Alliance (@Hep_Alliance) or other favorite viral hepatitis orgs you may know. You may also consider following medical doctors, journalists, or viral hepatitis advocates you find out there in the big-virtual world. Don’t forget about the community at large. You’ll find others interested in hepatitis B by using the #hepatitis, #HBV or #worldhepday hashtags in the search box. Part of the goal is to educate and raise HBV awareness. At HBF, The world is our target audience. We are happy to follow, or be followed by anyone that is interested in hepatitis B.

Who will follow you? In the beginning, you’re not going to have a lot of followers. Don’t worry about it! Building a following takes time. Slowly but surely as you start participating, you will gain new followers. Start by “retweeting” someone you are following, and most likely they will follow you back if you are helping them get their message out.

The World Hepatitis Day Twitter Chat sounds great! How do I join the conversation? It’s simple. The Twitter Chat starts at 2 pm EDT on Friday, July 27th. Login to your twitter account and be ready to contribute. We will be using the #WHDchat hashtag for this chat. All you need to do is search twitter for the #WHDchat and it will generate a list with all of the tweets from the conversation. If you see a tweet that you like, retweet it.  If you’d like to contribute to the conversation with your own message, compose your tweet and be sure to add the #WHDchat at the end of your tweet or no one will see it.

That’s it! Join the conversation on July 27th at 2 pm EDT!