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A Capitol Celebration: US Leaders in Hepatitis B Celebrate World Hepatitis Day

Hep B United (HBU), a coalition established by the Hepatitis B Foundation (HBF) and the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO), held its fifth annual Hep B United Summit from July 26th to 28th in Washington D.C. The summit was held to promote screening and prevention strategies and advocate for a cure to further HBU’s mission to eliminate hepatitis B in the United States.

The summit is the largest gathering of hepatitis B leaders from around the country including public health agencies, national non-profit organizations, community coalitions, and individuals and family members affected by hep B. Catherine Freeland, MPH, Public Health Manager of HBF, said, “The summit is like a family reunion.” It’s an opportunity for HBU members to convene, share best strategies, and celebrate their wins over the past five years. The partnerships within HBU ensures that best practices and resources are shared as well. “Once we have a cure, we are committed to making sure chronically infected Americans get it,” Chari Cohen, DrPH, MPH, co-chair of HBU mentioned during the summit. Over the past year, HBU screened 22,556, educated 52,194, and reached over 6 million people with in-language hepatitis B messaging! That’s a win for sure!

As a part of the summit, HBU partners visited Capitol Hill to discuss with federal legislators the need to support hepatitis B and liver cancer research, education, screening, and treatment programs. A Congressional reception was also held to highlight the “#justB: Real People Sharing their Stories of Hepatitis B” storytelling campaign, which increases awareness of hepatitis B through personal stories. There were also meeting sessions focusing on capacity building, sustaining local hepatitis B coalitions, and best ways to utilize resources like the “Know Hepatitis B” campaign from the CDC and Hep B United and the #justB campaign. The Hep B United Summit is a way to celebrate World Hepatitis Day, which is on July 28th every year. Partners celebrated and raised awareness for World Hepatitis Day around Capitol Hill with a scavenger hunt!

At the Summit, HBU and its CDC partners presented five community leaders with the 2017 Hep B Champion Awards in recognition of their outstanding commitment to eliminating hepatitis B and liver cancer in their communities:

 Cathy Phan, the Health Initiatives Project Manager at HOPE Clinic in Houston, Texas, is recognized for her dedication to reducing health disparities, advocating for access to health care and health equity for underserved populations. Cathy brings unique perspectives, best practices and creative, innovative ideas from the local community clinics to the national level.

Vivian Huang, MD, MPH, the Director of Adult Immunization and Emergency Preparedness for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the medical director for the NYC Department of Health Immunization Clinic is recognized for her commitment to reducing the burden of vaccine-preventable diseases locally and globally including hepatitis B and liver cancer. Dr. Huang is a strong, tireless advocate for hepatitis B prevention, education, and treatment and health equity through health department engagement.

Hong Liu, PhD, the Executive Director of the Midwest Asian Health Association in Chicago, Illinois, is recognized for her innovative approaches to educating the public on hepatitis B and her willingness to share her best practices and experiences with others working in the field. This year, Dr. Liu’s leadership has led her organization to educating over 1,337 individuals in Chicago’s Chinatown district and screening close to 300 individuals for hepatitis B.

Dan-Tam Phan-Hoang, MSc., is program manager of HBI-Minnesota, a Minneapolis, Minnesota-based non-profit that she helped start in 2015. Dan-Tam is recognized for her leadership in Minneapolis, building strong collaborations with community leaders, healthcare providers, funders, and government agencies to address hepatitis B throughout the state and successfully establishing a hepatitis B outreach and prevention program for high-risk communities in the Twin Cities.

The National Task Force on Hepatitis B for AAPI, is a national organization that brings together scientists, health professionals, non-profit organizations, and concerned citizens in a concerted effort to eliminate the transmission of hepatitis B and to decrease health disparities among those chronically infected. The Task Force is recognized for increasing physicians’ awareness about hepatitis B and launching a new health care provider program, bringing together public health and health care professionals in regional meetings around the country. The Health Education for Liver Providers (H.E.L.P.) Training Program is designed to provide health care providers and their medical team core medical knowledge of hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

Read the summit press release here.

More pictures of the summit can be found on HBU’s Facebook album, Storify, and e-newsletter.

To read about the Hep B United 2016 Summit from last year, click here.

World Hepatitis Day: Because 4,000 Deaths a Day Is 4,000 Too Many


save-7-million-lives-2-212x300By Christine Kukka

The World Health Organization has designated July 28 as World Hepatitis Day, a day to work for global change to eliminate viral hepatitis and the suffering, death and discrimination that accompanies hepatitis B and C by 2030.

From Asia to North America, on this day people around the world raise awareness about viral hepatitis and advocate for better access to treatment and prevention programs and more effective government action. Why? Because 4,000 deaths a day from viral hepatitis is 4,000 deaths too many.

This action is critical, because for too long global leaders have made hepatitis a low priority. Viral hepatitis is a silent disease that causes no symptoms until it’s too late, and many believed the hepatitis B vaccine would simply make the infection go away.

Instead, global health organizations focused on other diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. HIV especially benefited from unprecedented efforts and donated resources to enable diagnosis and prevention of transmission and to provide treatment at low cost.

Today, we need the same effort and resources to eradicate viral hepatitis, which kill an estimated 1.4 million each year – more people  die from hepatitis annually than from HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis combined.
no-hep-for-all-2-212x300For example, between 5 to 20 percent of the 1 billion people living in Sub-Saharan Africa have chronic hepatitis B Despite this prevalence, there are no widespread screening, education or prevention programs in Africa. The majority of people lucky enough to get screened and diagnosed for hepatitis B are often blood donors, because there are no public health clinics that provide screening for viral hepatitis.

In Asia and Africa, even when pregnant women are diagnosed with hepatitis B, their newborns are often not given that critical, first vaccine dose within 12 hours of birth that would break the mother-to-child hepatitis B infection cycle. The birth dose of the hepatitis B vaccine is either too costly or simply unavailable. Perinatal infection, though preventable, continues to be a major source of chronic infection worldwide. Continue reading "World Hepatitis Day: Because 4,000 Deaths a Day Is 4,000 Too Many"

Join the Conversation at the Hep B United Summit; Watch the Summit On Periscope!

hepbunited-btnThe annual Hep B United Summit, organized by the Hepatitis B Foundation, convenes in Washington D.C. from Wednesday, July 27 through Friday, July 29. National and local coalition partners, experts, stakeholders, and federal partners will meet to discuss how to increase hepatitis B testing and vaccination and improve access to care and treatment for individuals living with hepatitis B.

You can watch many of these important sessions LIVE on Periscope. You can also follow the conversation at the Summit on Twitter with #Hepbunite!

What is Periscope? Periscope broadcasts live video worldwide, in real time, so you can watch it from your computer (via web link) or a mobile device (via Periscope app). The app is free and available for your phone (iPhone and Android) and iPad or Tablet.

Wondering how to use Periscope to watch the Hep B United Summit in real time? There are two options:

  • If you’re using a PC, keep an eye out for a tweet from Hep B United and/or the Hepatitis B Foundation Twitter handles (@hepbunited or @hepbfoundation) that will contain a link to take you directly to the stream.
  • If you’re on the go, you can download the Periscope app for free from the App store or Google Play. You can either login using Twitter or directly with your phone number. Create your Periscope username and then follow hepbunited and hepbfoundation. We’ll be sure to follow you back! Here’s a great Periscope tutorial from Traffic Generation Café to get you started. You can also click on the link from your twitter app.

Here are the details on the sessions that will be broadcast on Periscope:

State of Hepatitis B
1:45-2:15 p.m. Wednesday: Brian McMahon, MD, will provide an update on the state of hepatitis B globally, via a GoToMeeting connection.

Click and watch later here. 

Hep B United and Know Hepatitis B Campaign Accomplishments
2:15-3 p.m. Wednesday:  Cynthia Jorgensen, DrPH, of the CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis will provide an update on Hep B United and the Know Hepatitis B campaign accomplishments of the past year.

Click and watch here.

HHS Town Hall on Hepatitis B
9:30 a.m. Thursday:  There will be a town hall conference with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), live from HHS.

Click and watch here.

Breakout Session 1:

Developing New Hepatitis B Partnerships and Increasing Awareness
10:45-12:00 p.m. Friday: Contribute and learn about expanding outreach to new sectors (businesses, other at-risk communities, providers, etc.) and hepatitis B education strategies including social and ethnic media engagement. (Facilitators: Thaddeus Pham and Arcadi Kolchak)

Click and watch here.

Leveraging Data and Evaluating Impact
10:45-12:00 p.m. Friday: Discuss and collaborate on hepatitis B data collection and publication strategies, working with IRBs, and leveraging data to evaluate and promote coalition/organization impact. (Facilitators: Moon Chen and Chari Cohen)

Click and watch here.

Breakout Session 2:

Building and Sustaining Local Hepatitis B Coalitions
1:15-2:30 p.m. Friday: Develop strategies to sustain local hepatitis B coalitions and learn about engaging staff and local leadership. (Faciliators: Alex Shirreffs and Mohammad Abdul-Kadir)

Click and watch here.

Navigating Patients and Linkage to Care Strategies
1:15-2:30 p.m. Friday: Contribute to and learn about patient navigation strategies, including overcoming language barriers and working with community health workers and physician champions. (Facilitators: Nirah Johnson and Jane Pan)

Click and watch here.

 Not able to join the sessions with Periscope? Follow the conversation on Twitter using the #Hepbunite hashtag. Follow the events, RT and engage with event attendees and help us raise hepatitis B awareness in the U.S. and around the globe.

World Hepatitis Day is July 28th, and this Summit is a terrific opportunity to share with the world what we’re doing to help those living with hepatitis B in our communities.

Other popular hashtags for World Hepatitis Day, and to raise HBV awareness, include: #NOhep, #KnowHepB, #WorldHepDay, #WHD2016, #hepatitis, #hepatitisB, #HBV, and #hepB

Connect with, follow and engage with some of fellow partners on twitter to keep the HBV conversation going during the HBU Summit and World Hepatitis Day events, and beyond. Check out: @AAPCHOtweets, @AAHC_HOPEclinic, @AAHI_Info, @AAPInews, @apcaaz, @APIAHF, @ASIAOHIO, @CBWCHC, @CCACCInc, @cdchep, @cpacs, @HBIDC, @HepBFoundation, @HepBpolicy, @HepBProject, @HepBUnitedPhila, @HepFreeHawaii, @HHS_ViralHep, @ImmunizeAction, @LaoCenterMN, @MinorityHealth, @njhepb, @nemssf, @NVHR1, @nycHepB, @NYU_CSAAH, @sfhepbfree, @supportichs, @WhiteHouseAAPI,

Missing from the list? Contact the foundation at info@hepb.org to be added.

Don’t forget to join the World Hepatitis Alliance Thunderclap and register your World Hepatitis Day events.

nohep logo

Still have questions? Email us at info@hepb.org and we’ll help you get started!

Visit the Hep B United and Hepatitis B Foundation websites for more information about hepatitis B and related programs.

One in Three People Worldwide Has Had Hepatitis B, So Why Do We Feel So Alone?

Volunteers from the Rann India Foundation teach villagers about hepatitis B testing and prevention in India.
Volunteers from the Rann India Foundation teach villagers about hepatitis B testing and prevention in India.

By Christine Kukka

Hepatitis B is the global pandemic no one talks about, yet one in three people worldwide has been infected. In 2013, hepatitis B and C together was the seventh-leading cause of death worldwide, with hepatitis B causing 780,000 deaths annually.

Today, 257 million people have chronic hepatitis B. Despite the availability of an effective vaccine, the number of people living with hepatitis B virus is projected to remain at the current, unacceptably high level for decades and cause 20 million deaths through 2030.

How can this happen? Viral hepatitis infection and death rates far outstrip that of ebola and zika. In fact, you have to combine the death toll from HIV and tuberculosis to find human suffering on par with what viral hepatitis causes around the world each year. Continue reading "One in Three People Worldwide Has Had Hepatitis B, So Why Do We Feel So Alone?"

Celebrate World Hepatitis Day By Making Hepatitis B History

Joan M. Block, Co-Founder and Executive Director
Joan M. Block, Co-Founder and Executive Director

By Joan M. Block, RN, BSN
Executive Director and Co-Founder, Hepatitis B Foundation

Tuesday, July 28, is World Hepatitis Day, which commemorates the birthday of Dr. Baruch S. Blumberg, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for identifying the hepatitis B virus and developing a vaccine to prevent it. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the hepatitis B virus – a discovery that has literally saved hundreds of millions of lives.
Continue reading "Celebrate World Hepatitis Day By Making Hepatitis B History"

World Hepatitis Day: Preventing Hepatitis B in New York City

Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 10.22.51 AMBy Vivian Huang, MD MPH,
Hepatitis B Program Director
at the Charles B Wang Community Health Center, NYC

World Hepatitis Day is commemorated on July 28 every year.  The date was selected to honor the birthday of the Nobel Laureate Professor Baruch Blumberg, who discovered the hepatitis B virus. Continue reading "World Hepatitis Day: Preventing Hepatitis B in New York City"

Join Hep B United and Watch the Hep B Summit Online!

hepb-united-btnThe Hep B United Summit in Washington D.C., starting Sunday afternoon and running through Monday, July 26 and 27, can be viewed LIVE and in real time on Periscope. Plus, you can follow the conversation on Twitter with #HepBSummit! Continue reading "Join Hep B United and Watch the Hep B Summit Online!"

‘Think Again’ About Hepatitis – World Hepatitis Day Events in Ghana

imagesTheobald Owusu-Ansah of the Theobald Hepatitis B Foundation works tirelessly to raise the profile of hepatitis B in Ghana, where the HBV prevalence is approximately 30% in blood donors. Through collaboration with others, and heightening awareness with Ghanaian celebrities, Theobald and others were able to raise viral hepatitis awareness, and provide free screening and HBV vaccination during their World Hepatitis Day event this year. Read his account below and check out Theobald and the work he and his foundation are doing at the www.theobaldhepb.org or find THBF on Facebook

Viral hepatitis is the leading cause of liver cancer, which is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in Africa. On World Hepatitis Day, we urged the government to take actions ASAP to improve hepatitis awareness, monitoring, prevention and treatment.
 ASAP is a blue print framework for Global action, developed by the WHO to guide national government on the effective ways to prevent and control the transmission of viral hepatitis. This framework has four axes:

1.  Awareness raising, partnership promotion and resource mobilization,
2.  Scientific evidence that drives policies and actions,
3.  Access to immunization and information to prevent transmission,
4.  Provision of screening, care and treatment.

Thousands of Ghanaians live with viral hepatitis. About a third of Ghanaians living with viral hepatitis are unaware of their status and are not receiving care and treatment for the condition. It is estimated that hepatitis B kills over 1 million people each year, and an estimated 1 in 12 persons are currently infected and have to face life with chronic liver disease.

Ghana belongs to one of the areas where the prevalence of chronic HBV infection is high (≥8%), and that of hepatitis C is from 5-10%. There is high prevalence in approximately 30% among blood donors.
 In the year ending 2010, the incidence of viral hepatitis in Ghana was 43/100,000 population, with 102 deaths, which represents a 30% increase as compared to the year 2006 incidence of 30/100,000 population. (Source: www.theobaldhepb.org)

Ghana is rated a high-risk country for hepatitis B & C with between 10 and 15 percent prevalence rate. Out of every 100 Ghanaians, 13 may test positive for hepatitis B, which is far more prevalent than HIV/AIDS.

On the 20th July 2014, Celebrities in Ghana united to raise funds to support free Hepatitis B screening and vaccination. The program was under the theme “Celebrities Car Wash”.  Celebrities including Okyeame Kwame, Ghana Rap Doctor, former national black stars captain Stephen Appiah, Ghanaian actor Van Vicker and others volunteered to wash public cars for a fee to raise funds to support the programme.

The staff of Theobald Hepatitis B Foundation, Okyeame Kwame Foundation and other medical officials joined the celebrities for the car washing fundraising event. Members of the public took advantage of the celebrities’ car wash to bring their cars to be washed by their favorite’s celebrities. Celebrities expressed their interest in becoming viral hepatitis ambassadors in Ghana.

The event showed that you don’t need a big bank account to be able to make a difference, but with a bit of vision, one can create awareness.

On that day, we are calling on the government to develop and implement coordinated national action plans to fight viral hepatitis. The Theobald Hepatitis B Foundation in collaboration with the Hepatitis Coalition of Ghana, Okyeame Kwame Foundation together with MDS Lancet Laboratories, Roche and Ridge Hospital RPD on Saturday 26th July, 2014, offered free hepatitis B screening and vaccination to hundreds of people at James Town – Mantse Abgona in Accra. Out of 359 people screened, 49 people tested positive and they received counseling on what to do and what not to do, in terms of treatments and other biochemical tests they needed to undergo.

The Rapper observed that the youth turned out for the screening this year and expressed appreciation for the turnout. “I am really glad to see most of the young people come for the screening. This is to say that the youth is giving attention to health and this also indicates that we are moving in the right direction as a people,” says Okyeame Kwame.

The president of the Theobald Hepatitis B Foundation, Mr. Theobald Owusu Ansah delivered his speech for the occasion on the theme: “HEPATITIS: THINK AGAIN”, calling on the government to give much attention to Hepatitis B.

Thank you to all World Hepatitis Day supporters, sponsors and the media who volunteered their time, supplies, and/or funds to support this year’s events, and raising the profile of viral hepatitis in Ghana.

 

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). 

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