Hep B Blog

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

Hepatitis B Discrimination Registry

 

Despite almost 300 million people living globally with the world’s most common liver infection, hepatitis B remains stigmatized and those living with it can still face discrimination from various sources. Each year, the Hepatitis B Foundation answers numerous calls from around the world from people who have faced school, workplace, and travel challenges due to their hepatitis B status. These challenges are typically rooted in misinformation, outdated laws or guidelines, stigma, and an overall lack of awareness.

The Hepatitis B Foundation has been a longtime advocate of people living with hepatitis B. In fact, our advocacy successfully made hepatitis B a protected condition under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the United States. We also support programs to fight discrimination faced by people living with hepatitis B when applying to schools, jobs, or accessing affordable medicine.

We also compiled a report called “Health Insurance Costs Impacting Shoppers Living with Hepatitis B (2020) to help people living with hepatitis B in the U.S. make informed decisions when choosing a health insurance plan. It can also be shared with policymakers to inform them of potentially discriminatory benefit plan designs in various states.

Most recently, Hepatitis B Foundation is excited to announce the launch of our discrimination registry! The purpose of this registry is to document and track discrimination related to hepatitis B.  Hepatitis B discrimination is described as unjust, unfair, or prejudicial treatment of persons on the basis 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.

How to Share Your Experience

Use the registry link here and fill out the questions accordingly.

  1.  In the first section, we ask about your demographics which you can always select prefer not to answer for any of the questions.
  2. In the second section, we ask about your hepatitis B discrimination experience. In the third section, we offer additional support.
  3.  If you are located in the United States and are experiencing discrimination due to your hepatitis B status we can assist you to file a claim with the Department of Justice.

Other Discrimination Resources

Check out our Know Your Rights page. This page will help guide you through steps if you are experiencing discrimination in various institutional settings.

We have sections for:

  1. U.S. Schools and Education
  2. U.S. Employment
  3. U.S. Military
  4. U.S. Access to Medication
  5. Immigrant and International Issues

If you have any questions or concerns please email discrimination@hepb.org

Author: Evangeline Wang

Contact Information: info@hepb.org

May is Hepatitis Awareness Month!

May is Hepatitis Awareness Month! This month, we bring awareness to the public health impact of viral hepatitis in the U.S., and the health consequences of hepatitis B and C infections if left untreated.

Globally, hepatitis B virus (HBV) affects 2 billion people and in the U.S. an estimated 2.4 million people are living with a chronic hepatitis B infection. Hepatitis B is often called the “silent killer”, as people often do not realize they are infected with hepatitis B until their liver is severely damaged, which makes it vital that the month of May is dedicated to raising awareness of hepatitis B. Because chronic hepatitis B infection is the most common risk factor for liver cancer, it is critical that we improve awareness on how to prevent, diagnose and treat hepatitis B. Individuals chronically infected with hepatitis B have a 25% to 40% lifetime risk of developing liver cancer. However, it is important to note that with proper testing and treatment, people living with hepatitis B can reduce that risk and live a long and happy life.

This month we look forward to encouraging all adults in the U.S. to get tested for hepatitis B with a simple blood test, and get vaccinated with a safe and effective vaccine if they are not yet protected or infected.  Thank you for helping us bring awareness to hepatitis B this May!

Resources For Patients

The Hepatitis B Foundation has multiple resources for patients you might not be aware of. Below is a small list you should check out!

  • Hep B Community
    • A new global online support group.
  • Physician Directory
    • Find knowledgeable doctors! The Hepatitis B Foundation has created a directory of liver specialists to help those seeking qualified medical care. The specialists have agreed to be included in this directory and treat chronic hepatitis B and/or liver cancer and are willing to be contacted for further information.
  • B Heppy
    • A podcast discussing all things hepatitis B-related. Our first episode discusses the COVID-19 vaccine and people living with hepatitis B.
  • Liver Q’s Video Series on Hepatitis B
    • These short video clips answer some frequently asked questions about hepatitis B.
  • Clinical Trial Locator
    • 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.

Check out our website for more!

Resources For Providers

  • CDC’s Hepatitis Awareness Month Social Media Toolkit
  • Hep B United’s and CDC’s Know Hepatitis B Social Media Templates
    • The Know Hepatitis B campaign provides translations in multiple languages like Arabic, Amharic, French, and Swahili, Chinese, and Vietnamese.
  • Hep B United Philadelphia’s Provider ECHO
    • The goal of the Hepatitis B ECHO is to expand provider capacity at the primary care level to diagnose, treat and manage hepatitis B. Each ECHO session will include one case discussion and a 15-minute didactic aimed to empower providers to manage hepatitis B.
  • Webinar: Educational Resources for African Communities
    • Panelists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the African Services Committee will discuss Know Hepatitis B campaign resources for community health workers working within African communities and community-based hepatitis B prevention initiatives. Additionally, hepatitis B activist and storyteller Bright Ansah will share his personal experiences with hepatitis B and highlight the need for greater awareness, education, and resources about hepatitis B in African communities.

April 30 is National Adult Hepatitis B Vaccination Awareness Day

The Need for an Adult Hepatitis B Vaccination Awareness Day

 In 2019, the hepatitis B community successfully advocated for the introduction of U.S. House and Senate resolutions to designate April 30th as National Adult Hepatitis B Vaccination Awareness Day for the first time! Two years later, the Hepatitis B Foundation is proud to support this day and continue adult vaccination efforts as we gear up for May, Hepatitis Awareness Month.

On April 30th we bring awareness to adult hepatitis B vaccination efforts. Despite a safe and effective hepatitis B vaccine, only 25% of the U.S. adult population has been vaccinated, primarily due to people being born before the vaccine was universally recommended.1 New hepatitis B infections are highest among people aged 30-49 years because many people at risk in this group have not been vaccinated in spite of federal recommendations.

Acute hepatitis B cases are rising partially due to the opioid epidemic with the increase in injection drug use. Hepatitis B can be spread through needle sharing or unsterile drug injection equipment. Additionally, hepatitis B can be transmitted from mother-to-child, and about 1,000 newborns become infected   each year in the U.S..2 This statistic is concerning because mother to child transmission can be prevented in most cases with appropriate use of the vaccine. When exposed to the hepatitis B virus at birth, 90% of newborns will develop chronic life-long infection, putting them at much greater risk for cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Immunization rates also remain low among vulnerable populations including those living with other chronic conditions such as hepatitis C, HIV, kidney disease, or diabetes. In fact, just 12% of diabetic adults 60 years old or older are fully vaccinated, and 26% of diabetic adults ages 19-59 have received the complete vaccine series. Healthcare workers are an under-vaccinated vulnerable population as well. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just 60% of healthcare personnel have completed their vaccine series. Get yourself vaccinated for yourself and your loved ones!

How to Become Vaccinated for Hepatitis B

In the era of COVID, we are reminded how important vaccines are. Make sure you and your loved ones are vaccinated for hepatitis B. If you are not vaccinated, ask your doctor or healthcare provider for the hepatitis B vaccine. This safe and effective vaccine is given in 2 or 3 doses depending on the vaccine:

The three-dose vaccine (scheduled at 0, 1 and 6 months):

  1. The first dose is administered at any time (newborns should receive their first dose in the delivery room).
  2. The second dose is administered one month after the first dose.
  3. The third dose is administered 6 months after the first dose.

Sometimes committing to a 3-dose shot is hard. Luckily, there is an approved 2-dose hepatitis vaccine, Heplisav-B, for adults in theU.S..

The two-dose vaccine:

  1. The first dose is administered at any time.
  2. The second and final dose is administered one month after the first dose.

More information on the dosing schedule can be found here.

You can show your support for National Adult Hepatitis B Vaccine Day by using the social media toolkit and hashtag #AdultHepBVaxDay on April 30th and when discussing the hepatitis B vaccine on social media! Graphics are also available to share throughout your networks.

Join the Hepatitis B Foundation and other leading hepatitis organizations for a Congressional Briefing on Thursday, April 29th at 3pm ET where a group of panelists will discuss how we can work towards achieving health equity by increasing adult hepatitis B vaccination rates.

References

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/populations/idu.htm
  2. https://www.hhs.gov/hepatitis/learn-about-viral-hepatitis/hepatitis-b-basics/index.html

Author: Evangeline Wang

Contact Information: info@hepb.org