PRESS RELEASE

The Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO) Applauds Introduction of First-Ever Viral Hepatitis and Liver Cancer Prevention Bill

October 29, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

[Archive] Stacy Lavilla
Director of Communications
(510) 272-9536 x110
slavilla@aapcho.org

Washington DC –AAPCHO today enthusiastically praised the new Viral Hepatitis and Liver Cancer Prevention & Control Act of 2009 (HR3974), aimed at significantly reducing the prevalence of a potentially deadly disease that already impacts more than 5 million people in the United States. The first bill to ever specifically address two major causes of liver cancer was introduced this afternoon by Representative Mike Honda (D-CA) to members of Congress.

Representative Honda, Chairman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said, “Chronic Hepatitis B and C are silent killers, poised to strike millions of Americans and it is time for Congress to act in a concerted effort to educate particularly vulnerable communities as well as the general public. This bipartisan bill judiciously invests federal money in a balanced, comprehensive approach to viral hepatitis education, prevention, treatment, and management and I look forward to working to pass this legislation.”

Developed in collaboration with the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable (NVHR) and other community health advocacy organizations over the past year, the bill has garnered co-sponsorships from Members William Cassidy (R-LA), Edolphus Towns (D-NY), Anh “Joseph” Cao (R-LA), David Wu (D-OR), Todd Platts (R-PA), Donna M. Christiansen (D-VI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Bobby Rush (D-IL), George Butterfield (D-NC), Judy Chu (D-CA).

“AAPCHO is definitely excited about this new legislation, given the shockingly disproportionate rate of hepatitis B infection amongst Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders (AA & NHOPIs) who already make up more than half of the estimated 2 million cases of hepatitis B in this country,” said Jeff Caballero, executive director of AAPCHO and current vice-chair of NVHR.

“Still, our fight against hepatitis and liver cancer extends far beyond just the AA & NHOPI community; we face a global epidemic with literally hundreds of millions of people infected worldwide,” Mr. Caballero continued, “We therefore must continue to work, with the support of Congress and of countless health advocates, to educate the public about hepatitis and ultimately eradicate the disease from all of our communities.”

Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are highly contagious blood borne viruses that cause liver disease, liver cancer, and premature death. Chronic hepatitis B, which causes up to 80% of the world’s primary liver cancer cases, is treatable when detected early and properly managed and in about 50% of the cases, chronic hepatitis C can be cured. An estimated 5.3 million people living in the United States are infected with either hepatitis B or hepatitis C. Tragically, more than half are unaware of their status because viral hepatitis symptoms often do not present themselves until severe liver damage has already taken place and thus do not know to get tested.

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

NVHR is a coalition of public, private, and voluntary organizations dedicated to reducing the incidence of infection, morbidity, and mortality from viral hepatitis in the United States. www.nvhr.org

Media Relations

Beverly Quintana
(510) 272-9536 x112
bquintana@aapcho.org

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