The Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations Applauds Historic House Committee Hearing to Strengthen Federal Government Response to Hepatitis
June 17, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
[Archive] Stacy Lavilla
Director of Communications
(510) 272-9536 x110
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 17, 2010 – The Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO) commends the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform for holding a hearing today, on strengthening the federal government response to hepatitis in the U.S. The hearing investigates how to increase the coordination and prioritization of national efforts to address chronic hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C (HCV).
“AAPCHO is pleased that the committee is taking steps to bring attention to these devastating diseases disproportionately affecting Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders,” said Jeffrey Caballero, executive director of AAPCHO. AA&NHOPIs are 2.4 times more likely to be diagnosed with liver disease than non-Hispanic Whites, making up more than half of the 2 million cases of hepatitis B in the U.S.
“HBV and HCV infections are blood-borne and often persist for years, resulting in chronic but usually asymptomatic liver inflammation,” said Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), who provided key testimony at this historic hearing. “Chronic hepatitis is a major cause of liver cancer and chronic liver disease globally and in the U.S.,” Dr. Koh added.
AAPCHO, with eight fellow hepatitis B and C advocacy organizations, submitted recommendations for the committee to address during the hearing, including:
- Increased funding for hepatitis
- Increased funding and support for Dr. Howard Koh’s interagency workgroup on hepatitis
- For improved coordination and prioritization of hepatitis activities at HHS
- For implementation of the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations in their recent report on hepatitis
- For the development of a national strategy to hepatitis
- Movement of key legislation on hepatitis
- Viral Hepatitis and Liver Cancer Control and Prevention Act (HR 3974)
- Congressional Resolution recognizing May 19 as World Hepatitis Day and the month of May as National Hepatitis Awareness Month
“These key recommendations aim to help the federal government improve its response to hepatitis,” Mr. Caballero stated, adding, “Increased funding and the passage of legislation that actively addresses these preventable disease will improve the health outcomes of those infected and lead to the decline in new infections.”
Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are highly contagious viruses that cause liver disease, cancer, and premature death. Chronic hepatitis B is treatable when detected early and properly managed, and 50% of chronic C cases can be cured. An estimated 5.3 million people living in the U.S. are infected with either hepatitis B or hepatitis C and more than half are unaware of their status because symptoms oftentimes do not surface until severe liver damage has already taken place.
The Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO) is a national association representing 27 community health organizations dedicated to promoting advocacy, collaboration, and leadership that improves the health status and access of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders in the United States. Since 1987, AAPCHO has advocated for policies and programs that improve the provision of health care services that are community driven, financially affordable, linguistically accessible, and culturally appropriate. For more information on AAPCHO and its Guiding Principles and Values, please visit www.aapcho.org.