AAPCHO and Bristol-Myers Squibb Partner on Hepatitis B Program
May 9, 2005
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
[Archive] Stacy Lavilla
Director of Communications
(510) 272-9536 x110
Oakland – May 9, 2005 – The Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO) today announced a partnership with Bristol-Myers Squibb Company to introduce the “B Healthy” program at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center in New York.
The program, which is being announced during Hepatitis B Awareness Week, is designed to increase awareness among local physicians of the existing epidemic of chronic hepatitis B in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community and make them aware of screening, vaccination and treatment options. “B Healthy” will include intensive training workshops for local physicians, focused on guidelines for chronic hepatitis B screenings among AAPIs and current standards for the continuum of care and treatment for chronic hepatitis B patients. In addition, the program will provide community education and support for people chronically infected with the hepatitis B virus and their families.
“Chronic hepatitis B disproportionately affects the AAPI community. It is extremely important for AAPIs to recognize the seriousness of this disease and take the steps necessary to prevent and manage the disease,” said Thomas Tsang, medical director at Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. “With the help of AAPCHO and Bristol-Myers Squibb, we will be able to increase education and awareness for chronic hepatitis B and ensure our community has access to treatment and diagnostic tests.”
Chronic hepatitis B infection is a potentially life-threatening disease. More than half a million people worldwide die each year from primary liver cancer, and up to 80 percent of primary liver cancers are caused by chronic hepatitis B. Of the approximately 350 million carriers of the virus worldwide, 80 percent are of Asian descent. Asians in the U.S. account for more than half of the chronic hepatitis B cases and half of the deaths resulting from chronic hepatitis B infection. The virus is typically spread among AAPIs via mother-to newborn transmission or in early childhood from close contact with infected family members.
“Hepatitis B is one of the greatest health threats for AAPIs, and yet there is a tremendous lack of education and awareness of the disease among the AAPI community,” said Jeffrey Caballero, executive director at AAPCHO. “As a result, many AAPIs who develop chronic hepatitis B infection often unknowingly progress to more serious health conditions such as liver damage and liver cancer. This program will give physicians a better understanding of ‘best practices’ related to the continuum of care and treatment of chronic hepatitis B that can be used to improve care for AAPI patients.”
It is estimated that only a small percentage of chronic hepatitis B patients have been screened, vaccinated or are currently receiving treatment for chronic hepatitis B, according to representatives at Bristol-Myers Squibb. “Our company is committed to improving care for chronic hepatitis B patients, and will continue to work with organizations like AAPCHO to increase education and awareness for this disease,” said Evren Atillasoy, M.D., hepatologist and director, Bristol–Myers Squibb Medical Affairs.