Hep B Blog

Happy NAIRHHA Day!

Today is NAIRHHA Day! Every September 9th, the Hepatitis B Foundation brings awareness to National African Immigrant and Refugee HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis Awareness Day. Founded by advocates in Massachusetts, Washington D.C., and New York, NAIRHHA Day has been observed annually on September 9th by healthcare professionals, awareness campaigns, and other organizations since 2014. The Multicultural AIDS Coalition (MAC), Hepatitis B Foundation and the Coalition Against Hepatitis for People of African Origin (CHIPO) are working to establish NAIRHHA day as their own federally designated awareness day.

Hepatitis B and HIV in African Immigrant Communities

 People of African origin are disproportionately affected by hepatitis B infection. Worldwide an estimated 292 million people are infected with chronic hepatitis B. Over 60 million people in Africa have hepatitis B which annually accounts for an estimated 68,870 deaths.1

In fact, in some African communities in the United States, between 5%-15% of people have chronic HBV infection. Unfortunately, due to the silent nature of the disease, lack of disease awareness, and limited health care access, most African community members who have hepatitis B DO NOT KNOW that they are infected. This puts them at much greater risk for premature death from cirrhosis or liver cancer.

There is a high burden of HIV/HBV co-infection in African countries because both diseases share similar transmission routes such as mother-to-child, unsafe medical and injection practices, and unscreened blood transfusions.2 Chronic HIV/HBV infection is reported in up to 36% of people who are HIV positive, with the highest prevalence reported in west Africa and southern Africa. The co-infection of HIV and HBV is especially dangerous because it accelerates liver disease such as fibrosis and cirrhosis. In fact, liver-related mortality is twice as high among people with an HIV/ HBV co-infection.2

 With approximately 54,000 people with HBV who immigrate to the United States annually it is important to bring awareness to hepatitis B in African Immigrant communities on this day!

Get Involved

Viral hepatitis and HIV heavily impact African immigrant communities in the U.S. Let’s raise awareness and advocate for resources and funding to support elimination efforts & healthier communities.

Action Items:

  1. There are African community organizations all over the U.S., from Boston to Seattle. Connect with one in your area to learn more about & contribute to the health of these vibrant communities. Start by visiting https://www.hepb.org/research-and-programs/chipo/member-organizations/
  2. Data drives policy change & it can be difficult to find data about African immigrant communities because it is often not separated from data about African American communities. Advocate for this data to be separated by contacting your local Department of Health today!
  3. Education & awareness matter! Many elected officials do not know about these issues, but they should! Contact your state & federal reps today to ask what they’re doing to address viral hepatitis & HIV in African immigrant communities. Visit https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials
  4. Change needs resources! Help grow the capacity of African organizations in your area by contributing your time, money, or other resources to eliminating viral hepatitis & HIV in African immigrant communities. Find an org in your state or city & ask how you can plug into their work!
  5. Funding is critical for progress to occur & advocacy is needed to make sure African immigrant communities receive enough money to combat viral hepatitis & HIV. Contact your federal, state, & local elected officials & local department of health to ask what they’re doing to support this. Start with members of @NASTAD found at https://www.nastad.org/membership-directory
  6. Good health & healthcare can’t happen without communication. Learn more about the need for language access programs to include African dialects at https://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=1&lvlid=6.
  7. Federal recognition means greater awareness, education, & resources. Continue to support the establishment of NAIRHHA Day as a federally recognized awareness day by contacting @HHS’s sitehiv.gov to advocate for this!
  8. Spread the word! A big part of NAIRHHA Day is raising awareness & you can help with that! Share this toolkit far and wide on social media & also check out some great resources on hepatitis in African immigrant communities at https://www.hepb.org/research-and-programs/chipo/resources/resources-for-educators/

 

 

  1. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hepatitis-b
  2. Spearman, C. W., Afihene, M., Ally, R., Apica, B., Awuku, Y., Cunha, L., Dusheiko, G., Gogela, N., Kassianides, C., Kew, M., Lam, P., Lesi, O., Lohouès-Kouacou, M. J., Mbaye, P. S., Musabeyezu, E., Musau, B., Ojo, O., Rwegasha, J., Scholz, B., Shewaye, A. B., … Gastroenterology and Hepatology Association of sub-Saharan Africa (GHASSA) (2017). Hepatitis B in sub-Saharan Africa: strategies to achieve the 2030 elimination targets. The lancet. Gastroenterology & hepatology, 2(12), 900–909. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2468-1253(17)30295-9

August is National Immunization Awareness Month!

As August wraps up National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). This month we raise awareness to highlight the importance of vaccination. In the era of COVID-19, we are shown how effective and protective vaccines are. During NIAM, we encourage you to talk to your doctor, nurse, or healthcare professional to ensure you and your family are protected against serious diseases by getting caught up on routine vaccination, especially the hepatitis B vaccination!

What is Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is the most common serious liver infection in the world. It is caused by the hepatitis B virus that attacks and injures the liver. Two billion people (or 1 in 3) have been infected and about 300 million people are living with a chronic hepatitis B infection. Each year around 820,000 people die from liver disease caused by hepatitis B despite the fact that it is preventable and treatable. In the United States, 2.4 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis B!

The hepatitis B virus (HBV) is transmitted through blood and infected bodily fluids. It can be passed to others through direct contact with blood, unprotected sex, unsterilized or contaminated needles, and from an infected woman to her newborn during pregnancy or childbirth.

Hepatitis B is a “silent epidemic” because most people do not have symptoms when they are newly infected or chronically infected. Thus, they can unknowingly spread the virus to others and continue the silent spread of hepatitis B. For people who are chronically infected but don’t have any symptoms, their liver is still being silently damaged which can develop into serious liver disease such as cirrhosis or liver cancer.

Preventing Hepatitis B  

It takes only 2 to 3 shots to protect yourself and your loved ones against hepatitis B for a lifetime.

The hepatitis B vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine that is recommended for all infants at birth and for children up to 18 years. The hepatitis B vaccine is also recommended for adults living with diabetes and those at high risk for infection due to their jobs, lifestyle, living situations, or country of birth. Since everyone is at some risk, all adults should seriously consider getting the hepatitis B vaccine for lifetime protection against a preventable chronic liver disease.

The hepatitis B vaccine is also known as the first “anti-cancer” vaccine because it prevents hepatitis B, the leading cause of liver cancer worldwide.

You cannot get hepatitis B from the vaccine. All hepatitis B vaccines that have been used since 1986 are made synthetically – meaning the hepatitis B vaccines do not contain any blood products. Learn more.

Vaccine Schedule

How to Get Vaccinated

If you are unsure of your hepatitis B vaccination status, ask your healthcare provider for a simple blood test!

If you have not been vaccinated – ask your healthcare provider for the simple and effective vaccine! They are generally available at your doctor’s office, local pharmacy, or local health clinic. If you are United States-based the Center for Disease Control maintains a database of locations that offer the hepatitis B vaccine. You can search for locations within the U.S!

Author: Evangeline Wang

Contact Information: info@hepb.org

GlaxoSmithKline Recruiting for B-Together Hep B Clinical Trials

The company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is launching a new clinical trial, called B-Together, that will investigate how two study drugs might work together to treat chronic hepatitis B (CHB). Researchers are hoping to find new potential treatments that could be more effective than those that are currently available and could lead to positive results that last long after the treatment ends. Participants in this trial could play a role in shaping science and changing the landscape of CHB treatment around the world, and will have an opportunity to learn more about the disease itself.

The two drugs that will be investigated in this trial are GSK3228836 and pegylated interferon, also known as Pegasys. In a previous Phase 2 trial, people living with CHB received GSK3228836 for 4 weeks. The Phase 2b B-Together trial will test longer treatment with GSK3228836, followed by Pegasys, to see what effects this may have on viral antigens (such as HBsAg) in the body. 

About the Study Drugs

GSK3228836 is an investigational drug being tested as a potential treatment for CHB, meaning it is not yet approved for this purpose. Current medicines available to treat CHB only stop the virus from multiplying – they do not enable the body to fully clear the infection, so people have to keep taking these medicines. GSK3228836 is designed to stop the virus from producing proteins that may prevent the immune system from fighting the virus. Thus, the study drug may potentially allow the body to gain control over the infection.

The other drug used in this study, Pegasys, is a medicine that is already used on its own by doctors to treat CHB. Pegasys works by enhancing the body’s immune response to viral infections such as hepatitis B.

What Will Happen During This Trial?

During this trial, all participants will receive GSK3228836 followed by Pegasys. After you have finished treatment with GSK3228836, your doctor will check if it is appropriate for you to start treatment with Pegasys. If it is not appropriate, you may not receive Pegasys at all. At the beginning of the trial, you will be assigned by chance to one of two groups. Each group will receive the study drugs for different lengths of time. You will know which group you are in. The B-Together trial lasts about 79 weeks for each participant. This includes a screening period, a study treatment period, and a follow-up period.

Screening Period

At a screening visit, the study doctor will give you a physical examination, ask about your medical history, and conduct medical tests. The screening period may last up to about 6.5 weeks while the study doctor reviews the results of your screening visit to determine if you meet all requirements for participation.

Trial Treatment period

While receiving GSK3228836, you will visit the clinic for either 12 or 24 weeks. For the first two weeks of your treatment with GSK3228836, you will visit twice per week and for the remaining weeks you will visit the clinic once per week.

When you have finished treatment with GSK3228836, your doctor will assess if it is appropriate for you to start treatment with Pegasys. If it is appropriate, then you will then receive treatment  with Pegasys once a week for up to 24 weeks.

In some countries, it will be possible for you to self-inject Pegasys at home after discussion and training from your study doctor. This could reduce the number of times you have to visit the clinic.

Other study activities will vary from visit to visit and may include:

  •         Discussions about your health and medications you may take outside the trial
  •         Measurement of vital signs (i.e. blood pressure, pulse, weight)
  •         Collection of blood or urine samples
  •         Physical examination
  •         Questionnaires about your health and well-being

Follow-Up Period

During the 24-week follow-up period, you will not receive injections of study treatment, but you will complete other study visit activities as scheduled. There are eight visits scheduled in the follow up period. Your study participation will end about 72 weeks after your first dose of the trial drug.

Who Can Participate?

You may be eligible to participate in this trial if you are at least 18 years old, have been living with documented CHB for at least six months, and have also been receiving stable nucleos(t)ide treatment (not telbivudine) with no changes for at least six months prior to screening and no planned changes for the duration of the study. There are other eligibility requirements that the study doctor will review with you. Individuals who have a current co-infection with or past history of hepatitis C virus, HIV or hepatitis D virus are not eligible to participate in this trial. 

Where Is This Trial Taking Place?

This trial is ongoing in the UK, Spain, Russia, Poland, Italy, Korea, Japan, China, the US, Canada, and South Africa.

You can play a role in shaping your own health and the science of tomorrow! To learn more about this trial and check your eligibility to participate, visit https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04676724

Happy World Hepatitis Day!

Every year on July 28th,  we celebrate World Hepatitis Day in honor of Dr. Baruch Blumberg’s birthday. Dr. Blumberg discovered the hepatitis B virus in 1967 and subsequently developed the hepatitis B vaccine two years later in 1969. We commemorate World Hepatitis Day by raising awareness about viral hepatitis. With almost 300 million individuals living with hepatitis B worldwide, it is so important to bring awareness to this preventable and treatable disease. This year’s World Hepatitis Day theme is “Hepatitis Can’t Wait”. The theme focuses on the fact that people with viral hepatitis need action now – to make sure they have access to testing and treatment to save their lives.

Get Involved

Here are some ways you can get involved with World Hepatitis Day!

Share on Social Media

You can get involved with the Hepatitis Can’t Wait campaign by doing 1-minute actions, 10-minute actions, or longer actions! Your actions can be as simple as sharing a post on social media or more involved like getting in contact with your policymaker to encourage viral hepatitis prioritization

Discrimination Registry

 If you are experiencing discrimination due to your hepatitis B status, consider adding your story to our discrimination registry. We are working to document discrimination related to hepatitis B. Discrimination is defined as the unjust, unfair or prejudicial treatment of a person on the grounds of their hepatitis B status. In other words, being treated differently because of one’s hepatitis B infection. For someone with hepatitis B, this can mean exclusion, denying benefits, denied employment, education, training, goods or services, or having significant burdens imposed on an individual due to their infection status.

Become an Advocate

Become a Hep B Advocate! Sign up below to receive the latest news and updates about hep B policy issues, learn about upcoming advocacy events, and be notified of opportunities to take action and show your support for our policy initiatives. We’ll provide resources, information, and tools to help you:

  • Communicate effectively with your elected officials
  • Educate and engage your community on hep B policy issues
  • Recruit and organize other hep B advocates and champions in your community
  • Promote and participate in ongoing national, state, and local advocacy efforts.

 Participate in a Clinical Trial

 Volunteering for a clinical trial program can be very valuable. Expensive blood work, treatment medications, and doctor’s visits are usually provided free of charge for those accepted into a study. Clinical trials also provide the opportunity to potentially benefit from the latest advances in medical science.

GlaxoSmithKline is launching a clinical trial, “B-Together,” to study how two drugs (GSK3228836 and Pegasys) might work together to treat chronic hepatitis B (CHB). Researchers hope to find new treatments that could be more effective and lead to positive results that last long after the treatment ends.

You may be eligible to participate in this trial if you are at least 18-years old, have been living with documented CHB for at least six months, and have also been receiving stable nucleos(t)ide treatment (not telbivudine) with no changes for at least six months prior to screening and no planned changes for the duration of the study (79 weeks). This trial is ongoing in the UK, Spain, Russia, Poland, Italy, Korea, Japan, China, the U.S., Canada and South Africa.

Learn more and check your eligibility to participate.

 ​Listen and Learn

Listen to our podcast: B Heppy! This podcast is part of our 300 Million Reasons campaign, a movement to improve awareness about hepatitis B and liver cancer worldwide, to promote engagement of key stakeholders, and to empower people impacted by hepatitis B to become vocal advocates. There are almost 300 million people around the world living with chronic hepatitis B infection, and we want to make sure each and every voice is heard.

Below are the episodes you can listen to, and stay tuned for more episodes about hepatitis B!

  • COVID-19 and Hepatitis B
  • The History of the Hepatitis B Foundation and Hep B 101
  • All of Us – Research Program
  • The Patient Perspective with Bright
  • Patient Resilience

 

Author: Evangeline Wang

Contact Information: info@hepb.org

 

 

Why You Should Get the Hepatitis B Vaccine

During the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been much controversy over vaccines. Although there has always been an anti-vaccine movement, it has grown during the pandemic. However, despite all of that, it is highly recommended that people who are at risk get the hepatitis B vaccine. Almost 300 million people worldwide have chronic hepatitis B and almost 800,000 people die every year due to hepatitis B complications. In fact, hepatitis B is the greatest risk factor for developing liver cancer (HCC). The hepatitis B vaccine is simple and effective. It requires either 2 or 3 shots over a few months. It is one of the most-administered vaccines worldwide, and one of the safest, with few side effects!

There are many groups that may need the vaccine. These include but are not limited to: 

  • All infants, beginning at birth
  • All children aged <19 years who have not been vaccinated previously
  • Susceptible sexual partners of hepatitis B-positive persons
  • Sexually active persons who are not in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship (e.g., >one sex partner during the previous six months)
  • Persons seeking evaluation or treatment for a sexually transmitted disease
  • Men who have sex with men
  • Injection drug users
  • Susceptible household contacts of hepatitis B-positive persons
  • Healthcare and public safety workers at risk for exposure to blood
  • Persons with end-stage renal disease, including pre-dialysis, hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, and home dialysis patients
  • Residents and staff of facilities for developmentally disabled persons
  • Travelers to and families adopting from countries where hepatitis B is common (e.g. Asia, Africa, South America, Pacific Islands, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East)
  • Persons with chronic liver disease, other than hepatitis B (e.g. cirrhosis, fatty liver disease, etc.)
  • Persons with hepatitis C infection
  • Persons with HIV infection
  • Adults with diabetes aged 19 through 59 years (clinicians can decide whether or not to vaccinate their diabetic patients ≥60 years)

Now, this is a large list of people who might need the vaccine, but how hard is it to receive one? It is one of the easiest vaccines to get. Most hospitals carry the vaccine, and in the UK, hospitals are required to give the vaccine to at-risk groups. In the United States, the Affordable Care Act should cover preventive services; so the hepatitis B vaccine should be mostly available free of cost.

The Hepatitis B Foundation recommends everyone who is at risk or may in the future be at risk receive the vaccine. It is a smooth and seamless process that can prevent HBV, liver cancer, and let you live a long and healthy life. If you are not vaccinated for hepatitis B, ask your doctor or primary care provider for the vaccination! 

If you are unsure of your hepatitis B status, ask your doctor or primary care provider to become tested! The hepatitis B test is super simple – it only requires one blood sample. Your doctor should order the “hepatitis B panel” which includes different tests. Read more hepatitis B testing here!

 

Sources –https://www.goodrx.com/hepatitis-a-and-hepatitis-b-vaccine/what-is

Author: Simeon Paek, Intern

Contact Information: info@hepb.org

Announcing New Liver Cancer Clinical Trials

Over the past few decades, there have been several advancements in liver cancer research and treatment. These have included improvements in chemotherapy treatments that can now successfully shrink tumors to a size at which they can be more easily surgically removed, and the development of therapies that block blood flow to tumors. Liver ablation (tissue removal) and transplantation techniques have also been greatly improved in recent years (Johns Hopkins Medicine, 2020). Many of these advancements would not have been possible without the help of clinical trial volunteers with liver cancer. Your contribution is important and valuable and may help research for the future. Learn more about these opportunities today.

The pharmaceutical company Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) is now enrolling for two clinical studies in liver cancer (also called hepatocellular carcinoma or HCC). These trials have the reference numbers CA209-9DW and CA209-74W. If eligible and you are willing and able to take part, you will be helping to advance research.

One of these trials is researching a study drug called nivolumab. Researchers want to find out how well the study drug works, both with and without ipilimumab in combination with trans-arterial ChemoEmbolization (TACE), when compared to TACE alone in participants with intermediate-stage HCC. Eligible trial participants must be at least age 18 years old and must not have had a liver transplant, or be on the waiting list for a liver transplant. This is not a full list of trial requirements.

Another trial is researching nivolumab in combination with another study drug called ipilimumab (also called Yervoy) in participants with advanced HCC. Researchers in this trial want to find out how well this study drug combination works when compared to other drugs called sorafenib or lenvatinib. Eligible trial participants must be at least 18 years old and must not have had any type of prior chemotherapy. This is not a full list of trial requirements.

For more details about each trial, including full trial requirements, lists of tests and procedures used to determine trial eligibility, and more details about Bristol Myers Squibb, please visit the BMSStudyConnect website.

Before you decide to enroll in a clinical trial, you can download the Study Participant’s Guide. This guide is available in many languages on this site, and includes information about trial participation, why clinical studies are important, questions to ask your doctor before participating, guidance on transportation and lodging during a clinical trial, helpful tips on how to prepare to take part in a trial, and links to helpful resources.

References

Johns Hopkins Medicine. (2020). 4 Liver Cancer Treatment Advances. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/4-liver-cancer-treatment-advances.

Liver Cancer Among Men

June is Men’s Health Month. This month we bring awareness to preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. In 2020, The World Health Organization found that liver cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths with 830,000 deaths.1 Liver cancer occurs more often in men than in women with it being the 5th most commonly occurring cancer in men and the 9th most commonly occurring cancer in women.2

There are two main types of liver cancers, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) which accounts for about 75% of liver cancer cases, and intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma which accounts for 12-15% of cases. Liver cancer especially impacts Asian countries like Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and China. Hepatitis B is the leading cause of HCC globally. Of the 300 million individuals living with a chronic hepatitis B diagnosis, about 25% will develop HCC.3

Risk Factors

HCC affects men with an incidence 2x-4x higher than women due to differences in behavioral risk factors and biological factors.3 Research has found men were less likely to undergo HCC screening and more likely to smoke.  Additionally, studies have shown alcohol is a major risk factor for HCC. In the United States, HCC associated with alcohol is higher among men than in women at 27.8% and 15.4% respectively.3

Biologically, there is evidence estrogen (a female hormone) decreases IL-6 mediated hepatic inflammation and viral production.3 Studies have demonstrated IL-6 may promote virus survival and/or exacerbation of the disease.4 In the context of hepatitis B, men are at an increased risk for HCC as they do not produce estrogen which would help decrease the risk of IL-6, in turn, promoting viral survival.

Prevention

The great news is that HCC can be prevented by preventing hepatitis B. There is a safe and effective vaccine that can be completed in either 2 or 3 doses over a span of 3 months. Ask your healthcare provider for the hepatitis B vaccine series.

If you are unsure of your hepatitis B status, you can get tested! Ask your healthcare provider for the “Hepatitis B Panel” – it should include 3 parts. The panel is super simple and only requires one sample of blood.  If you are of Asian descent and male, it is especially important for you to get tested as liver cancer disproportionately impacts individuals from Asian countries and men.

If you have chronic hepatitis B, make sure your doctor screens you regularly for liver cancer. Typically done with a combination of blood tests and imaging, liver cancer screening can help detect HCC early when it is still curable.

As we wrap up June and Men’s Health Month, you are encouraged to get vaccinated and tested for hepatitis B. Take control of your health, and don’t wait!

References

  1. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cancer
  2. https://www.wcrf.org/dietandcancer/liver-cancer-statistics/
  3. Wu EM, Wong LL, Hernandez BY, et al. Gender differences in hepatocellular cancer: disparities in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease/steatohepatitis and liver transplantation. Hepatoma Res. 2018;4:66. doi:10.20517/2394-5079.2018.87
  4. Velazquez-Salinas L, Verdugo-Rodriguez A, Rodriguez LL, Borca MV. The Role of Interleukin 6 During Viral Infections. Front Microbiol. 2019;10:1057. Published 2019 May 10. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2019.01057

 

Author: Evangeline Wang

Contact Information: info@hepb.org

 

World Refugee Day!

June 20th is World Refugee Day! This day “celebrates the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution. World Refugee Day is an occasion to build empathy and understanding for their plight and to recognize their resilience in rebuilding their lives.”1

In 2020, the United Nations Refugee Agency estimates that 80 million people were forcibly displaced. A majority of refugees originate from Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Myanmar and are mostly resettling in countries like Turkey, Colombia, Pakistan, Uganda, and Germany.1

As individuals who are experiencing forcible displacement begin to resettle, it is important to encourage hepatitis B testing and vaccination, even though hepatitis B might be the last thing on their minds. It is important to keep health, and especially hepatitis B in mind because hepatitis B disproportionately affects people from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) African, Western Pacific, and Asian regions.

In South Sudan, hepatitis B accounts for 80% of the viral hepatitis cases. Moreover, Myanmar has a moderate to high burden, with 6.5% of the general population being infected with hepatitis B. It is imperative that testing and vaccination is encouraged in countries like South Sudan and Myanmar and in countries where people are resettling to not only prevent the spread of hepatitis B but also allow people living with hepatitis B who might not know it to live a long and healthy life. Additionally, it is important to note that the continuation of care for people experiencing forcible displacement is halted when resettling in different countries. This interruption can be damaging to individuals’ health, especially those living with hepatitis B as medication must be taken daily, and seeing a liver specialist should happen every 6 months.

However, some people who are in the process of resettling might be hesitant to get tested for hepatitis B. This can be due to a myriad of reasons like the cost of healthcare if they do test positive, access to quality healthcare, fear of stigma, and other cultural/language barriers.

So how can organizations encourage people experiencing displacement to get tested for hepatitis B? This answer is frankly too complicated and complex for a simple blog post, but here are a few suggestions for organizations.

  1. Utilize community health workers. Community health workers who are fluent in refugee languages and cultures can educate community members about preventative health measures. People might be more receptive to the information if someone familiar with the community is the educator.
  2. Reduce barriers to healthcare. Transportation sometimes is a barrier for individuals experiencing resettlement. Offering transportation to and from healthcare clinics can greatly increase access to quality healthcare. Furthermore, when the individual arrives at their healthcare facility, they must have an interpreter if they do not speak the local language or go to a provider who speaks their native language.
  3. Use culturally sensitive educational materials. Using materials in languages other than English is so important to effectively communicate health information about hepatitis B! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has their Know Hepatitis B Campaign where you can access FREE multi-lingual hepatitis B educational materials.

Reference:

  1. https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/world-refugee-day.html

Happy Pride Month – HIV/HBV Co-Infection

 

June is Pride Month in the United States! This month we celebrate the LGBTQ+ community in honor of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. This blog post will discuss HIV/HBV coinfection in LGBTQ+ individuals and how to prevent both viruses.

HIV/HBV Co-Infection

Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV disproportionately affects LGBTQ+ individuals, mostly gay and bisexual men. In the United States, approximately 69% of the 37,968 new HIV cases were among gay and bisexual men in 2018. HIV can also impact lesbian women, although the infection rate among this community is lower. There is also very limited current data out about lesbian and bisexual women and the burden of HIV. However, HIV can be transmitted between women who have sex with women through sex toys and injection drug use. The CDC reports 1 million people have identified as transgender in the United States, and 2% of those individuals are affected by HIV.

Approximately 5-20% of the HIV-infected population worldwide is also living with hepatitis B. These rates vary among different regions and at-risk populations based on modes of transmission. This figure may approach 20% in Southeast Asia, and 5% in North America and Western Europe. In the U.S., Western Europe, and Australia, the prevalence of chronic hepatitis B was reported to be 5%-14% among HIV-positive individuals.

Since both HIV and the hepatitis B virus share similar transmission routes, it is not surprising that there is a high frequency of coinfection. Sexual activity and/or injection drug use are the most common routes of transmission of the hepatitis B virus among those also infected with HIV.

Prevention

You can easily prevent hepatitis B with a safe and effective vaccine. The vaccine comes in either 2 or 3 doses, given over a span of 6 months. Learn more about the vaccine dose schedule here!

If you are not vaccinated for hepatitis B, ask your doctor or primary care provider for the vaccination! Check out this list of LGBTQ+ friendly providers.

If you are unsure of your hepatitis B status, ask your doctor or primary care provider to become tested! The hepatitis B test is super simple – it only requires one blood sample. Your doctor should order the “hepatitis B panel” which includes different tests. Read more hepatitis B testing here!

You can lower your risk of acquiring HIV by using PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis). PrEP is a daily medication you can take to prevent HIV. Just make sure you are tested for hepatitis B before starting PrEP. Read more about PrEP here!

 

Author: Evangeline Wang

Contact Information: info@hepb.org

Happy Hepatitis Testing Day

May 19th is national Hepatitis Testing Day! Today we raise awareness about viral hepatitis and encourage people to know their status. More than half of the people living with viral hepatitis in the U.S. do not know their status, so if you do not know your status, get tested!

Since 2013, the United States has officially observed May 19th as Hepatitis Testing Day. With over 2.4 million people living with chronic hepatitis B in the United States and 300 million people living with it globally, it is so important to know your status! Additionally, hepatitis B is known as a “silent infection” which means that you do not know you have the disease until it has done major damage to your liver. Luckily, with hepatitis B testing, you can find out your status and take control of your health!

Hepatitis B Testing

The hepatitis B test is a simple blood test that can be done at your doctor’s office or local care clinic. The hepatitis B blood test requires only one sample of blood and your health care provider should order the “Hepatitis B Panel,” which includes three parts. You and your health care provider will need to know all three test results in order to fully understand whether you are infected, protected or still at risk for a hepatitis B infection. Remember to ask for a copy of your hepatitis B blood test results so that you fully understand which tests are positive or negative.

Interpreting Results

Your results should include HBsAg (hepatitis B surface antigen), HBsAb (hepatitis B surface antibody), and HBcAb (hepatitis B core antibody). Below is a chart to help you interpret your results!

Newly Diagnosed

Here are some next steps if you have received your test results and tested positive for hepatitis B. The first thing you should know is that you can live a long and healthy life.

Next Steps:

  1. Understand your diagnosis. Do you have an acute or chronic infection? When someone is first infected with hepatitis B, it is considered an acute infection. Most healthy adults who are acutely infected are able to get rid of the virus on their own. If you continue to test positive for hepatitis B after 6 months, it is considered a chronic infection. Knowing whether your hepatitis B is acute or chronic will help you and your doctor determine your next steps. If you are unsure of what your blood test results mean, you may find Understanding Your Blood Tests helpful.
  2. Prevent the Spread to Others. Hepatitis B can be transmitted to others through blood and bodily fluids, but there is a safe and effective vaccine that can protect your loved ones from hepatitis B. You should also be aware of how to protect your loved ones to avoid passing the infection to family and household members and sexual partners.
  3. Find a Physician. If you have been diagnosed with chronic hepatitis B, it is important to find a doctor that has expertise in treating liver disease. We maintain a searchable physician directory database to help you find a liver specialist near you.
  4. Educate Yourself. Get the facts about hepatitis B, including what it is, who gets it, and possible symptoms, starting with What is Hepatitis B.
  5. Seek Support. It might be helpful to you if you seek community support. You can join Hep B Community, an online global forum dedicated to supporting people affected by hepatitis B. The Hepatitis B Foundation also lists more support groups you can check out here .

 

Author: Evangeline Wang

Contact Information: info@hepb.org