Hepatitis B Foundation Launches #justB Storytelling Campaign

A national resource of stories shared by real people affected by hepatitis B

DOYLESTOWN, PA (January 2017) – Few people know about hepatitis B or the stories of the two million Americans living with the serious liver infection. This will change beginning January 2017 as the Hepatitis B Foundation unveils its #justB national storytelling campaign with real people sharing their stories about hepatitis B. The goal is to put a human face on this disease in order to increase public awareness, decrease stigma and discrimination, and to promote testing and treatment for hepatitis B, which will ultimately save lives. Stories will be featured each month on the foundation’s website at hepb.org/justb.

justBHepatitis B has infected 1 out of 3 people worldwide – or 2 billion people in total. Of this number an estimated 240 million people are chronically infected and live with an increased risk of dying prematurely from cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer. Two-thirds of these people don’t know they’re infected with the hepatitis B virus, which is spread through blood, unprotected sex, unsterile needles, and from an infected mother to her newborn during childbirth. Although there is still no complete cure, the good news is that hepatitis B is preventable and treatable.

The first #justB video to debut is ‘Janet and Kurt's Story,’ which shares the experience of a couple who learn that the baby they plan to adopt is being born to a woman infected with hepatitis B. They describe their initial fear and panic, their frantic search for information, and their efforts to make sure the baby is vaccinated in the delivery room to break the mother-to-child infection cycle that leads to most of the new hepatitis B infections worldwide.

In the months to come, nearly 20 individuals from across the U.S. will be featured in storytelling videos, sharing their experiences about being diagnosed with hepatitis B and the struggle to receive adequate treatment, the stigma and discrimination they face, and their courage in living with this chronic liver disease. Family members also share the pain of caring for and losing loved ones due to hepatitis B. Each story is a powerful reflection of the enormous impact that hepatitis B has on the lives of hundreds of millions people around the world.

The Hepatitis B Foundation is partnering with Philippa Wharton, a video producer headquartered in New York City, and the StoryCenter, a nonprofit organization that started the global digital storytelling movement, to produce the #justB videos. The foundation has also collaborated with the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO) in the development and promotion of this national initiative.

“There is no better way to raise public understanding about the true impact of hepatitis B than through personal stories,” said Joan Block, RN, BSN, executive director and co-founder of the Hepatitis B Foundation. “Hearing from real people will help make hepatitis B real. And this will help us to make hepatitis B an urgent public health priority, with the goal to eliminate hepatitis B once and for all.”

The #justB storytelling campaign is funded by educational grants from Arbutus Biopharma, focused on hepatitis B drug discovery, and Dynavax Technologies, dedicated to immunotherapies. For more information or to view the videos, visit hepb.org/justB.

About Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B is the world’s most common serious liver infection and the primary cause of liver cancer, which is the 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths in the world. Two billion people (or 1 in 3) have been infected with the hepatitis B virus, more than 240 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., 1 in 20 Americans has been infected with hepatitis B, and an estimated 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 during delivery. Although hepatitis B is preventable and treatable, there is still no complete cure for this deadly liver infection.

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, go to 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.

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