Please see below for Dr. Howard Koh’s, Assistant Secretary for Health of the US Department of Health and Human Services, letter to Asian American and Pacific Islanders networks and organizations regarding hepatitis B care in America.
To see the full letter in PDF, please click here.
To see a full report about hepatitis B and the uninsured, please click here.
During last month’s dual observances of Hepatitis Awareness Month and Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month, it was my pleasure to help raise awareness of the disproportionate impact of hepatitis B in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (APPI) communities and to galvanize efforts across the nation to remedy it. Our challenge now is to sustain the great outreach and awareness generated last month and get more AAPIs screened, tested, vaccinated, and, if appropriate, treated for hepatitis B.
An estimated 1 in 12 Asian AAPI Americans are living with chronic hepatitis B. So, although AAPIs make up only some 5 percent of the total U.S. population, they represent 50 percent of the estimated 800,000—1.4 million persons who are infected with hepatitis B in the United States. This health disparity is further reflected in viral hepatitis–associated illness and death. For example, liver cancer incidence is highest among the AAPI population. Despite these high rates, many AAPIs are not tested for hepatitis B, thus remaining unaware of their infection and not accessing lifesaving medical care and appropriate treatment. The good news is that we do have effective tools to eliminate hepatitis B; there is a vaccine to prevent hepatitis B and effective treatments are available for people with chronic hepatitis B infection.
Improved coordination of viral hepatitis activities across the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and with state and local partners, will have a positive impact on our efforts to reduce viral hepatitis disparities in the AAPI population. Fortunately, as a result of the unprecedented coordination and collaboration among federal partners brought about by the Action Plan for the Prevention, Care, and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis, we also have access to a number of new tools released last month to support our ongoing awareness efforts. As important partners in these efforts, I wanted to share several of those tools tailored specifically for Asian and Pacific Islander populations that that I hope will be helpful to your organization as well as the providers and other stakeholders in your network… (see the complete letter here)