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Bristol Myers Squibb awards grant to Hepatitis B Foundation

The goal is reducing disparities in liver cancer for high-risk minority groups in the United States.

Doylestown, Dec. 22, 2020 – Bristol Myers Squibb has awarded a one-year, $134,000 grant to the Hepatitis B Foundation to close the disparity gaps related to hepatitis B-associated liver cancer in the United States among Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, African immigrant communities and other high-risk groups.

Hepatitis B is the primary cause of liver cancer worldwide and more than 2 million people in the U.S. are living with chronic hepatitis B infection. Liver cancer is one of the deadliest cancers, with a five-year survival rate of less than 20%. Over the past decade, liver cancer incidence and mortality has steadily risen each year, even while rates of most other cancers have been in decline. For people with hepatitis B, the key to saving lives is preventing progression to liver cancer and diagnosing it in its earliest stages. This can be accomplished through ensuring that people with hepatitis B are diagnosed and appropriately managed, and receive ongoing liver cancer screening.

“This is vitally important work because the communities we will be working with experience a significantly higher rate of liver cancer caused by hepatitis B, in some instances up to thirteen times higher than the general U.S. population,” Chari Cohen, DrPH, MPH, senior vice president of the Hepatitis B Foundation, said. “We greatly appreciate this generous grant from Bristol Myers Squibb.”

The grant will fund an initiative to develop and implement a culturally appropriate, community-focused awareness and education campaign to improve knowledge about the link between hepatitis B and liver cancer, dispel common myths and misconceptions, reduce disease-related stigma and normalize conversation around hepatitis B and liver cancer among highly impacted communities. The Hepatitis B Foundation will work with Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and African immigrant communities across the country to implement this project. These communities have the highest rates of both hepatitis B and liver cancer in the U.S. and the greatest liver-cancer related health disparities.

Changing the perceptions of hepatitis B and liver cancer can lead to health behavior change, especially when integrated into programs that improve access to care and treatment. These efforts can lead to more high-risk people in target communities seeking out and receiving liver cancer screening, thereby diagnosing liver cancer at earlier stages, when it is still treatable.

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