White House Pledges Support to End Viral Hepatitis

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President Barack Obama with Chris Lu,White House Cabinet Secretary and Co-chair of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Photo courtesy of the White House

On Feb. 1, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders expressed their commitment to ending viral hepatitis nationwide.

1 in 12 people worldwide is living with viral hepatitis, with viral hepatitis affecting as many as 5 million Americans. Hepatitis B affects 1 in 10 Asian and Pacific Islanders, and is vaccine preventable.

“Hepatitis is a problem that is important to us and President Obama, the first president to publicly acknowledge that chronic viral hepatitis is a national concern,” said Chris Lu, White House Cabinet Secretary and Co-chair, White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. “Hep B is a problem that disproportionately affects our API community. It’s important to raise public awareness of the importance of early detection.”

Lu said the Department of Health and Human Services has developed a viral hepatitis action plan and White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders will be working closely with them to make sure it’s implemented. The plan outlines actions to increase viral hepatitis awareness and knowledge among health care providers and communities, and steps that will improve access to quality prevention, care, and treatment services for viral hepatitis.

Combating the Silent Epidemic of Viral Hepatitis: Action Plan for the Prevention, Care and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis can be read here: http://www.hhs.gov/ash/initiatives/hepatitis

After the president’s state of the union address last week, Team HBV, whose mission is to increase awareness of the dangers of Hepatitis B and liver cancer, tweeted the White House inquiring what will be done to address Hepatitis B.

Lu responded back via Twitter, that the President’s Affordable Care Act will provide health care to over 30 million Americans including millions of APIs and noted that that the president commemorated World Hepatitis Day on July 28, 2011, indicating that hepatitis is a health issue on the White House’s radar.

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