CAPAC Members Mark World Hepatitis Day

Jul 28, 2021 Issues: Healthcare

Washington, D.C. — Today marks World Hepatitis Day, which is observed annually to raise global awareness about viral hepatitis and encourage the eradication of this disease. Viral hepatitis disproportionately impacts the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) population, and AAPIs account for over half of all Hepatitis B infections in the United States, despite making up only 7% of the total population. Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) issued the following statements:

Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair:

“Today my CAPAC colleagues and I are proud to recognize World Hepatitis Day. Each year, thousands of Americans die from this preventable disease, and another 75,000 are infected. Hepatitis B has been a silent killer in the Asian American community for a long time. 1 in 12 Asian Americans are chronically infected with hepatitis B in comparison to 1 in 1000 non-Hispanic Whites. AAPIs are also eight times more likely to die from hepatitis B than non-Hispanic Whites.

“With this virus affecting so many lives in the AAPI community, the need to close this health disparity is clear. With improved public education and information regarding available treatments and vaccines, we can manage this public health problem. This World Hepatitis Day, let us recommit ourselves to ensuring everyone has access to affordable hepatitis testing and lifesaving treatments.”

Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06), CAPAC First Vice Chair:

“It’s World Hepatitis Day and as Co-Chair of the Congressional Hepatitis Caucus, I’ve reintroduced a resolution with Co-Chair Rep. Hank Johnson to bring greater attention to viral hepatitis. I have been proud to champion efforts to increase awareness of hepatitis and secure millions in needed funding for research and treatment. We must do all we can to combat this silent killer, and we cannot forget how HBV disproportionately affects Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, who account for over half the cases despite making up only 7% of U.S. population. I remain committed to fighting for even more funding and continuing to work with the many tireless advocates and organizations to help save lives and find a cure.”

Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33), CAPAC Whip:

“Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders account for more than 50% of Americans living with chronic hepatitis B, despite making up only 7 percent of the entire U.S. population. On top of that, approximately two-thirds of AAPIs are unaware of their chronic infection, which can lead to a failure in liver health that can become fatal over time. On World Hepatitis Day, I join my colleagues to raise awareness about viral hepatitis. In alignment with this year's World Hepatitis Day theme, "Hepatitis Can't Wait," we must act now to eliminate barriers to testing and ensure every American has access to the hepatitis B vaccine and other lifesaving treatments.”

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13):

“On World Hepatitis Day, we must take this opportunity to recommit to combatting inequities in public health, especially as we recover from a global pandemic. As co-chair of CAPAC’S health task force, I will continue working with my colleagues to ensure everyone – including medically underserved communities – have the resources they need for education, treatment, and prevention.”

Congressman Steven Horsford (NV-04):

“This World Hepatitis Day, I join my CAPAC colleagues to raise awareness around the danger that hepatitis poses to the AAPI community and all Americans. We must work together to encourage everyone at risk for hepatitis to get tested and ensure that they receive the care and treatment needed. Today, I reaffirm my commitment to addressing all forms of hepatitis by eliminating barriers to testing and treatment while investing in equitable, culturally competent care.”

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (NY-12):

“I’m joining my CAPAC colleagues on this World Hepatitis Day to raise awareness about viral hepatitis, a disease that disproportionately impacts Asian Americans. Despite its prevalence, awareness is low: close to three quarters of the population infected with HBV or HCV are unaware of their condition, and therefore go without the necessary, life-saving treatment they require. It is crucial that we dedicate increased resources to this disease, ensure that everyone is tested, and broaden access to care. Viral hepatitis remains a global health challenge for far too many, and Congress must commit to eradicating this disease.”