CAPAC Marks Fifth Annual World Hepatitis Day

Aug 2, 2012 Issues: Healthcare

Washington, DC – July 28, 2012, marked the fifth annual World Hepatitis Day, encouraging communities and governments around the world to work together against this “silent killer.”  Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) released the following statements to show their support for this vital cause:

Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-32), CAPAC Chair:  “Hepatitis B has for far too long been the silent killer of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. While we make up only six percent of the U.S. population, we account for more than half of all cases of chronic Hepatitis B infections. I have personally lost close friends and family members to viral hepatitis, and these tragedies were compounded by the fact that their deaths could have been prevented with readily available treatments and vaccines. Their memories are never far from my mind, and by recognizing World Hepatitis Day we can raise awareness about viral hepatitis and help save lives.  Together, we can finally put this indiscriminate killer to rest.”

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-09), CAPAC Healthcare Taskforce Chair: “Despite the progress we have made, Asian American and Pacific Islander communities continue to have some of the lowest rates of health coverage and still lack access to fully culturally competent and linguistically appropriate care. To get a handle on this silent epidemic, Congress must sufficiently fund hepatitis prevention programs and promote awareness across the nation.”  

Congressman Mike Honda (CA-15), CAPAC Chair Emeritus & Founder of the Congressional Hepatitis Caucus: “On July 28th, our nation joined others around the globe to observe the fifth annual World Hepatitis Day, acknowledging the need for communities and governments to come together to promote awareness of this silent killer.  Hepatitis B and C account for over two billion infections worldwide, with more than five million Americans currently suffering from the disease. As CAPAC Chair Emeritus, I know the ravaging impact that this disease is having on the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, wherein, half of Hepatitis B victims are AAPIs.  That is why I have made legislating a response to the hepatitis epidemic one of my top priorities in Congress.  Last year, I joined my colleagues, Congressmen Cassidy, Johnson, and Dent, and Senator Kerry, to introduce the Viral Hepatitis Testing Act, a bi-partisan bill that will finally turn the tide in this war.  It is also why I founded the Congressional Hepatitis Caucus to organize and educate policymakers on Capitol Hill.  Thanks to President Obama’s leadership, this day also marks just the second ever Presidential Proclamation recognizing World Hepatitis Day; a reminder of how far we have come in just the past two years.  We now have an action plan, new testing guidelines, and increased funding for the Division of Viral Hepatitis. Yet, I recognize we still have more to do.  Until we get comprehensive legislation passed and real funding for testing and education, our work will not be done.  In honor of those 15,000 Americans who die each year from Hepatitis-related infections, I will continue the fight to end this silent crisis.”

Background

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), viral hepatitis is among the top 10 infectious disease killers and the leading cause of liver cancer and cirrhosis worldwide. Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C alone cause approximately 80% of the world’s liver cancers. Approximately 500 million people, or 1 in 12 persons worldwide, suffer from chronic viral hepatitis infections.  A million of those who are infected die each year from liver issues caused by the disease. Many of those who are chronically infected with viral hepatitis are unaware of their infection, which is why it is often referred to as a “silent killer.”

Over half of all Americans who suffer from chronic Hepatitis B infection are of Asian or Pacific Islander descent. Approximately 1 in 10 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are chronically infected with Hepatitis B, compared to 1 in 1000 Caucasian Americans.

https://www.cdc.gov/Features/WorldHepatitisDay/

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The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.