News — 15 May 2013
Screening Events Promote Hepatitis Testing and Prevention during National Hepatitis Awareness Month, 2013

New York, NY – May 14, 2013 – The United States, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) kicked off National Hepatitis Awareness Month this May, while the Latino Commission on AIDS kicks off the National Hispanic Hepatitis Awareness Day, May 15th, campaign. Hep B Free San Francisco, Asian Week Foundation, and National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable are also helping to coordinate hepatitis screenings and a new public service announcement to highlight prevention of hepatitis B and C (HBV/HCV) disease, which together cause almost all liver cancers worldwide[i]. Screening events featured in the PSA are being held in three of the largest metro areas affected by viral hepatitis: New York, NY, Los Angeles, CA, and San Francisco, CA. Latino serving organizations have embraced National Hispanic Hepatitis Awareness Day and will also be screening & educating events throughout the country.

Viral hepatitis is a leading infectious cause of death in the U.S. To combat the epidemic, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services created an Action Plan in 2011 for the Prevention, Care and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis. Hepatitis Awareness Month, observed in May, and National Hepatitis Testing Day, observed each year on May 19, has resulted in a growing number of events being organized by local communities in cities around the country to highlight hepatitis prevention.

This year, events in New York City will start on Tuesday, May 14 with a press conference on the steps of City Hall organized by National Hispanic Hepatitis Awareness Day, New York Hep C Task Force and the New York Hep B Coalition. Los Angeles will hold a media event and community rally on Friday May 17 organized by Hep B Free Los Angeles and the Hep C Task Force of Los Angeles. San Francisco will hold a large pubic screening event and press conference on Saturday May 18 organized by San Francisco Hep B Free and the San Francisco Hep C Task Force. Other events will also be taking place throughout the country in observance of the awareness and testing days.

The PSAs will air from May 8 to May 19 in the New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco media markets. The PSAs feature a call for hepatitis testing as a way to prevent liver cancer and include a unique URL for each city that links to local hepatitis resources and screening events.

“Despite the fact that approximately 12,000 to 15,000 persons die per year from liver cancer or chronic liver disease associated with viral hepatitis, many still don’t know they are infected with hepatitis. We must raise awareness in our communities, so more people will test for viral hepatitis access lifesaving care and treatment for this condition” stated Guillermo Chacon, President of the Latino Commission on AIDS.

Dr. Warren Chin of the Chinese American Medical Society stated “one in ten Asian Americans is living with chronic hepatitis B and as many as two out of three Asian Americans with chronic hepatitis B are unaware of their status. Without knowing having the disease and appropriate medical treatment, one out of four will die of cirrhosis and liver cancer. Chronic hepatitis B and hepatocellular cancer is the single greatest health disparity between Asian and Caucasian Americans.”

“Far too many Americans – approximately four million — are infected with hepatitis B or hepatitis C, and the majority of those individuals don’t know it,” said Howard K. Koh, M.D., M.P.H., Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “The HHS National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan promotes prevention, screening, care and treatment to tackle this silent epidemic.”

The majority of liver cancers in the world are attributable to chronic infections of HBV and/or HCV. Primary prevention of HBV infection includes vaccination. HCV infection is potentially preventable through public health measures, including screenings.[ii] Many will die from liver cancer if they do not receive the proper care. Several minorities are disproportionately impacted by hepatitis. For example, Hepatitis B is the greatest health disparity for both African immigrants and Asian Americans affecting approximately 10% of both groups.

In 2012, approximately 4,300 Hispanics will be diagnosed with liver cancer, and about 2,700 will die from the disease. Liver can¬cer incidence rates in the US are about twice as high in Hispanics as in non-Hispanic whites. [iii] “We are deeply concerned about these incidence rates and part of Hepatitis Awareness month, May 15 has been designated National Hispanic Hepatitis Awareness Day. The campaign will not rest until we have tested every Hispanic in the US and linked them to care” stated Bethsy Morales-Reid Director of National Hispanic Hepatitis Awareness Day.

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[i] American Cancer Society:

http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003114-pdf.pdf

[ii] US Department of Health and Human Services:
http://www.hhs.gov/ash/initiatives/hepatitis/actionplan_viralhepatitis2011.pdf, Combating the Silent Epidemic, Action Plan for the Prevention, Care and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis
[iii] American Cancer Society:

http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@epidemiologysurveilance/documents/document/acspc-034778.pdf

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