FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Hepatitis B Foundation Co-sponsors Philadelphia Conference on The Severity of Hepatitis B in Asian Communities
Partners for this important conference included Center for Asian Health, Asian Community Cancer Coalition and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health
DOYLESTOWN, PA (November 26, 2008) –The Hepatitis B Foundation, in partnership with the Center for Asian Health of Temple University, the Asian Community Cancer Coalition, and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, sponsored a conference to inform community health and outreach professionals about the severity and impact of hepatitis B and liver cancer among Asian communities in Philadelphia. The November 6, 2008 conference attracted more than 100 participants from community-based organizations in Philadelphia, as well as several representatives from New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia, Maine and California.
The primary goal of the Philadelphia conference was to raise awareness about the enormous burden of hepatitis B and liver cancer in the Asian communities. In a call to action, Joan Block, the Executive Director of the Hepatitis B Foundation, stated “Hepatitis B and liver cancer in Asian communities is an urgent health problem that needs to be addressed. Today’s conference was held to highlight the enormous burden of this serious liver disease and to seek the support of Philadelphia’s community-based organizations that serve Asians to work together to address this health priority.”
With 1 out of 10 Asian Americans chronically infected with hepatitis B, this is an urgent health priority. The conference organizers seek to sound the alarm and mobilize community-based organizations that serve the Philadelphia Asian communities to work together to address the problem of hepatitis B through their existing health and social service programs.
According to Dr. Grace Ma, Founder and Director of Temple University’s Center for Asian Health, “Hepatitis B is a disease that disproportionately affects Asian and Pacific Islanders, the fastest growing ethnic population in the United States. Even though Asian Americans are an underrepresented and underserved group, we have an opportunity to seriously address this great health disparity.”
Experts shared their knowledge about the disease burden of hepatitis B at the global and local level; the medical facts about hepatitis B and its fatal link to liver cancer; public health research findings about the knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and practices of Asian Americans towards hepatitis B; current national policies that provide opportunities for positive community action; and local resources and services available to help meet the hepatitis B needs of the Asian communities. Presenting experts were: Dr. Esther Chernak and Ms. Tamara Brickham of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health; Dr. Hie-Won Hann of Thomas Jefferson University; Dr. Grace Ma of the Center for Asian Health at Temple University; and Dr. Gang Chen and Ms. Joan Block of the Hepatitis B Foundation.
Hepatitis B is the most common liver infection in the world affecting 2 billion people. In the U.S., it is estimated that up to 2 million Americans suffer from chronic hepatitis B, and Asian Americans account for more than half of these chronic hepatitis B cases. Hepatitis B and the increased risk of liver cancer represent the largest health disparity between Asians and non-Asians. Philadelphia has the 12th largest Asian population of any U.S. city (219,000 Asian residents), so there is an urgent need to educate and engage community-based organizations about hepatitis B and liver cancer. Sharing the view of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, Dr. Esther Chernak stated that, “Hepatitis B is a global disease with a local impact, but the good news is that it is preventable and very treatable. There is much we can do to intervene and stop the progression of this serious liver infection”.
Support for the Philadelphia conference on hepatitis B was provided by unrestricted educational grants from Bristol-Myers Squibb, Gilead Sciences, and Novartis.
About the Hepatitis B Foundation
The Hepatitis B Foundation is the only national nonprofit organization solely dedicated to finding a cure and improving the quality of life for those affected with hepatitis B worldwide through research, education and patient advocacy. For more information, visit www.hepb.org or call (215) 489-4900.