Statement on COVID-19 from Hepatitis B Foundation Scientific and Medical Advisory Board to the hepatitis B community <<click here>>

Hepatitis B community leaders convene to address eliminating hepatitis B during COVID-19 pandemic

Doylestown, Pa., Nov. 30, 2020 – Hep B United, a national coalition established by the Hepatitis B Foundation (HBF) and the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO) to address the silent epidemic of hepatitis B, will host its eighth annual (and first virtual) summit Dec. 2-4. The event will bring together nearly 200 community leaders, advocates and people living with hepatitis B to promote screening and prevention strategies and advocate for equitable access to health care.

Hepatitis B is caused by a virus and is the world’s most common, serious liver infection. It also is the deadliest vaccine-preventable disease, with nearly 900,000 people dying each year from hepatitis B-related disease worldwide. In the United States, an estimated 2.2 million Americans are chronically infected with hepatitis B, yet most do not know it. Without early diagnosis and intervention, one in four people living with hepatitis B will die prematurely from liver failure or liver cancer.

“Every year, the Hep B United summit brings together partners around the country to share best practices towards the elimination of hepatitis B,” Chari Cohen, DrPH, MPH, senior vice president of the Hepatitis B Foundation and co-chair of Hep B United, said. “The COVID-19 global pandemic has negatively impacted hepatitis B testing and vaccination programs. We look forward to having important conversations at the summit about strategies to continue critical community-based hepatitis B prevention and outreach programs.”

The Hep B United summit is the largest convening of hepatitis B leaders from community coalitions, national nonprofit organizations, individuals and family members affected by hepatitis B, and public health agencies in the United States. Hep B United is comprised of nearly 50 community coalitions across the country located in 29 cities, 22 states and Washington, D.C.

The summit’s theme, “Standing Up for Hepatitis B: Creative Collaborations to Amplify Awareness, Access, and Equity,” features sessions that share innovative local, national and global programs to prevent, diagnose and treat hepatitis B, including implementing screening and vaccination programs during the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic. The summit also will include sessions on the hepatitis B cure, how bias and racism affect health care, and voices from #justB, the Hepatitis B Foundation’s national storytelling campaign that tells the personal stories of people affected by hepatitis B to increase public awareness and combat stigma and discrimination.

"The Hep B United Summit convenes community leaders and other experts across the country at the frontlines of combating hepatitis B," said Jeffrey Caballero, executive director of AAPCHO and co-chair of Hep B United. "The Summit is needed now more than ever amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has exacerbated the challenges of those most impacted by hepatitis B, including Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Critical conversations, community engagement and advocacy best practices among the Hep B United coalition members spark the action needed to continue our work together to end this 'silent' epidemic and ensure equitable access to health care for our communities."

During the Summit’s reception on Dec. 4, Hep B United will present Corinna Dan, RN, MPH, former Senior Policy Advisor, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy, with the first Hepatitis B Federal Champion Award.

Hep B United also will present 2020 Hep B Champion Awards to nine community leaders and organizations in recognition of their collaborative and successful initiatives to address hepatitis:

  • Amy Shen Tang, MD, Director of Immigrant Health, Northeast Medical Services, San Francisco
  • Asian Health Coalition, Chicago
  • Bright Ansah, #justB Storyteller, Maryland
  • Chioma Nnaji, MPH, MEd, Project Director, Multicultural AIDS Coalition, Boston
  • Coalition Against Hepatitis in People of African Origin (CHIPO) New York City
  • David Urick, #justB Storyteller, Ypsilanti, MI
  • Farma Pene, Community Projects Coordinator, Bureau of Communicable Diseases, NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, New York City
  • Joe Balestreri, #justB Storyteller, Santa Rosa, CA
  • Richard So, MPH, MPA, Executive Director, San Francisco Hep B Free-Bay Area, San Francisco

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About Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B is one of the world’s most common infections and the primary cause of liver cancer, which is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the world. Up to 292 million are chronically infected, and almost 1 million people die each year from hepatitis B-related liver failure and liver cancer. In the U.S., one in 20 Americans has been infected with hepatitis B, and up to 2.2 million are chronically infected. The hepatitis B virus is transmitted through blood, unprotected sex, unsterile needles, and from an infected mother to her newborn due to blood exchange during delivery. Although hepatitis B is preventable and treatable, there is still no complete cure for this deadly liver infection.

About Hep B United: Hep B United is a national coalition established by the Hepatitis B Foundation and the Association of Asian and Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO) to address the public health challenge of hepatitis B by increasing awareness, screening, vaccination and linkage to care for all Americans, with a particular focus on Asian-American and Pacific Islander populations that are disproportionately impacted. To learn more, visit www.hepbunited.org.

About the Hepatitis B Foundation: The nation’s leading nonprofit organization solely dedicated to finding a cure for hepatitis B and improving the quality of life for those affected worldwide through research, education and patient advocacy, the Hepatitis B Foundation is based in Doylestown, Pa., with an office in Washington, D.C. To learn more, go to www.hepb.org, read our blog at hepb.org/blog, follow us on Twitter @HepBFoundation, find us on Facebook at facebook.com/hepbfoundation or call 215-489-4900. To donate, contact Jean Holmes at 215-489-4900 or jean.holmes@hepb.org.

About the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organization: The Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organization (AAPCHO) is a national association of community health organizations dedicated to promoting advocacy, collaboration, and leadership that improves the health status and access of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiian, and other Pacific Islanders in the United States. To learn more, visit www.aapcho.org.