Hep B Blog

Category Archives: HBV

The Importance of Liver Surveillance

October is Liver Cancer Awareness Month! This blog will discuss the importance of liver surveillance if you are living with hepatitis B.

Hepatitis B as a Major Risk Factor for Liver Cancer

Although liver cancer is the sixth most common cancer in the world, it is the second most common cause of cancer deaths. Many people do not realize that chronic hepatitis B is the primary global risk factor for developing liver cancer. Certain viruses, including hepatitis B, can cause hepatitis, which translates to “inflammation of liver.” The virus attacks the liver and weakens its ability to perform important tasks like filtering toxins from your blood and maintaining the level of sugar in your blood. Chronic (long-term) infection with hepatitis B or hepatitis C viruses can lead to liver cancer. Worldwide, hepatitis B is very widespread, making it a priority when it comes to the prevention of liver cancer. Approximately 292 million people around the world are living with hepatitis B.

Why Should I be Screened?

 Early detection of liver cancer can save lives! Regular screening for liver cancer and early detection are the most effective ways to improve treatment success and survival rates. Early detection of liver cancer results in more treatment options, which greatly improves the chances of survival after initial diagnosis. For patients in whom liver cancer is detected at an early stage and before symptoms occur – while the tumor is small and can be surgically removed – the 5-year survival rate can sometimes be more than 50%. This is why regular liver cancer screening is so important.

If you have cirrhosis or other known risk factors for liver cancer, make sure your health care provider screens you for liver cancer during your medical visits. Finding the cancer early may increase the chance of successful treatment. Your health care provider may refer you to a hepatologist, a doctor who specializes in liver diseases. Hepatologists have the most experience in managing chronic hepatitis B and C infections, including regular screening for liver cancer.

How Often Should I be Screened?

Liver cancer screening can be done as part of your regular visit to the health care provider who manages your hepatitis B. The American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) recommends that liver cancer screening include ultrasound of the liver every 6 months. If you are living with hepatitis B and are not getting screened every 6 months for liver cancer, you should ask your healthcare provider to start!

Listen and Learn!

The Hepatitis B Foundation’s podcast B Heppy has an episode out: Liver Cancer and Hepatitis B. In this episode, they chat with Dr. Kenneth Rothstein of University of Pennsylvania about the relationship between liver cancer and hepatitis B. He gives insight into herbal medicines, treatment options, liver surveillance, and important questions patients should ask their healthcare provider. Listen for more: https://bheppy.buzzsprout.com

 

 

Author: Evangeline Wang

Contact Information: info@hepb.org

October is Liver Cancer Awareness Month!

October marks the start of Liver Cancer Awareness Month! This month let’s celebrate your liver for all it does for your body!


Action Alert: Urge ACIP to Recommend Universal Hepatitis B Vaccination for Adults in the US

universal hepatitis B recommendation for adults is critical in addressing the consistently low adult hepatitis B vaccination rates and eliminating viral hepatitis in the United States. Tell the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) that universal adult hepatitis is essential to preventing liver cancer.  Take action here.


What Does Your Liver Do?

The liver is such an important organ – it’s like the engine of your body. It does hundreds of vital things to make sure everything runs smoothly:

  • Stores vitamins, sugar, and iron to help give your body energy
  • Controls the production and removal of cholesterol
  • Clears your blood of waste products, drugs, and other poisonous substances
  • Makes clotting factors to stop excessive bleeding after cuts or injuries
  • Produces immune factors and removes bacteria from the bloodstream to combat infection
  • Releases a substance called “bile” to help digest food and absorb important nutrients

The Link Between Liver Cancer and Hepatitis B  

The most common type of liver cancer is “primary liver cancer” or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Worldwide, the most common risk factor for primary liver cancer is chronic infection with the hepatitis B virus. Chronic viral hepatitis infections (hepatitis B and hepatitis C) cause about 80% of all liver cancers. Obesity, heavy alcohol use, fatty liver disease (NAFLD or NASH), and some metabolic disorders also increase the risk for primary liver cancer. People chronically infected with hepatitis B are more likely to develop liver cancer than uninfected people because the virus directly and repeatedly attacks the liver. These attacks over time can lead to increased liver damage, cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), and ultimately, liver cancer. People who have chronic hepatitis B can reduce their risk of liver cancer through regular medical monitoring, taking antiviral treatment if necessary, and making healthy lifestyle changes.

The best way to prevent liver cancer is to prevent hepatitis B infection! This is why hepatitis B vaccination is so important. When someone gets vaccinated to protect them from getting hepatitis B, they are also preventing liver cancer!

How Would I Know if I Have Liver Cancer?

If you have chronic hepatitis B, make sure you are getting routine surveillance for liver cancer every 6 months with your healthcare provider. This surveillance, which includes a combination of blood tests and liver imaging (ultrasound) is so important because early detection of liver cancer greatly improves the chances of survival with treatment. For patients in whom liver cancer is detected at an early stage and before symptoms occur – while the tumor is small and can be removed – the 5-year survival is greatly improved.  Learn more about who should be screened for liver cancer here.

Unfortunately, liver cancer is on the rise in the United States. The 2020 Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer found that the incidence of primary liver cancer in the United States increased by 2.5% overall and by 3.7% amongst women – the largest increase in incidence of any cancer between 2012-2016. Liver cancer was also stated as the second most common cause of death for Asian American and Pacific Islander males, who are disproportionately impacted by HBV, and the fifth most common cause of cancer deaths for men overall.

Making sure that people are protected from getting hepatitis B is so important in the U.S. – and establishing universal vaccination recommendations is essential to reducing liver cancer incidence and mortality. 

The Role of Universal Screening Guidelines for Hepatitis B

In the U.S., current childhood immunization recommendations by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) were established in the 1990s, and have significantly helped reduce rates of hepatitis B transmission over the past two decades, as more and more children have been vaccinated against hepatitis B. Individuals born prior to these recommendations, however, may be vulnerable to HBV, and span three generations: Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials. Together, these groups account for approximately 63% of the U.S. population. Within this vulnerable population, the recent rise in incidence of hepatitis B cases has increased the most within 30- 49 year olds, attributed to the opioid epidemic. Of the 2.4 million Americans estimated to be living with hepatitis B, approximately 75% remain undiagnosed and may display no symptoms. This increases the risk of transmission to unvaccinated household members or sexual partners who are unaware that precautions should be taken to prevent transmission. Lack of awareness and low vaccination rates in this community leave millions of Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millenials vulnerable to HBV.

Take Action: Sign the Petition to Support a Recommendation for  Hepatitis B Vaccination for All Adults!

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is currently reviewing evidence to determine if they should recommend universal adult hepatitis B vaccination. If the committee votes in favor of the proposal, this would mean that all adults in the United States would officially be recommended to receive the hepatitis B vaccine by the federal government. 

universal adult hepatitis B recommendation is critical in addressing the consistently low adult hepatitis B vaccination rates and eliminating viral hepatitis in the United States. Please add your name to support universal adult hepatitis B vaccination by Friday, October 15th here. For questions or more information, please reach out to Michaela.Jackson@hepb.org. 

 Other Resources

  1. Listen and LearnListen to B Heppy’s newest podcast episode “Liver Cancer and Hepatitis B”! We chat with Dr. Rothstein from the University of Pennsylvania about the relationship between hepatitis B and liver cancer. He offers provider insight and recommendations to individuals listening.
  2. Check Out Liver Cancer Connect – This program was created to provide individuals and families with the information and support they need when facing the challenge of primary liver cancer.
  3. Seek Community SupportHep B Community a global peer-led, volunteer-driven forum to support those living with and affected by hep B. They are dedicated to connecting people affected by hepatitis B with each other and verified experts in the field, who provide trustworthy and accurate advice.
  4. Learn More From Experts – Dr. Robert Gish talks about treatment options for liver cancer. How does the stage of cancer affect treatment? Why are screening and surveillance so important? What are the available treatments and what are the therapies in development? Find out by listening to the webinar.

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

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

 

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

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