West Coast Helps Launch National Hepatitis Testing Day

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U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) highlights Hep B Free and Hep C Task Force for Los Angeles and San Francisco as part of nearly 100 testing events across U.S.

SAN FRANCISCO AND LOS ANGELES, CA – May 19, 2012 – Fresh on the heels of a major announcement by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to expand hepatitis C testing to include all baby boomers, CDC officials were on the West Coast to highlight community testing efforts for both hepatitis B and hepatitis C as part of nearly 100 hepatitis testing events across the U.S. during the month of May.

“Chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis C can harm the liver, leading to cirrhosis and liver cancer, which is now the fastest rising cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States,” declared Dr. John Ward, Director of the CDC Division of Viral Hepatitis. “Tragically, because three in four people living with hepatitis B or C do not know they are infected, they do not receive antiviral therapies that can stop the progression of their disease and protect their liver from further harm.”

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and the CDC's John Ward joins elected officials and community leaders at the Asian Heritage Street Celebration on May 19, 2012 to celebrate the nation's first National Hepatitis Testing Day. Free hepatitis B and C testing were available for all fairgoers. Photo by Calvin Jeng. For more photos from the event visit: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150964746290469.478068.135897735468&type=3

The CDC declared May to be Hepatitis Awareness Month and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the first National Hepatitis Testing Day in response to the severity of the hepatitis B and C epidemics in the country. It is a key component of the federal government’s National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan. Millions of Americans are not aware they have chronic hepatitis B or C, leading to advanced liver disease, expensive liver transplants, and liver cancer. 1 in 12 Asian Americans has chronic hepatitis B. African American, Latinos, people with HIV/AIDS, veterans, and those in the Baby Boomer generation are disproportionally affected by hepatitis C.

“Chronic hepatitis B and C have had a significant impact on San Francisco, and yet receive relatively little attention. We are proud to welcome the CDC on this inaugural National Hepatitis Testing Day to raise greater awareness,” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. “We need to educate the community and promote testing, vaccinations and treatment. Not only will San Francisco be the first City in America to be Hep B free, but we will also lead the charge to end Hep C liver disease as well.”

In response to the call for Americans to know their viral hepatitis status, the San Francisco Hep B Free campaign and the San Francisco Hepatitis C Task Force collaborated on a unique project to conduct the largest joint testing event in the nation to provide free hepatitis B and C screening and education at the Asian Heritage Street Celebration in San Francisco. The day prior, Hep B Free Los Angeles and the Hep C Task Force for Los Angeles also collaborated on a major outreach event to spread hepatitis prevention efforts attended by more than 35 media representatives including both Asian and mainstream news outlets.

“Viral hepatitis is a serious public health problem in all of California, including Los Angeles,” said Dr. Heidi Bauer, Chief of the Sexually Transmitted Diseases Control Branch for the California Department of Public Health, who joined the Los Angeles press conference. “We are excited to support the great work by Los Angeles County and their community partners at Hep B Free LA and the Hepatitis C Task Force for LA in bringing attention to this issue.”

The Los Angeles City Council presents a resolution to Hep B Free Los Angeles and Hep C Task Force for Los Angeles on the occasion of the first National Hepatitis Testing Day. L to R: Ted Fang, AsianWeek Foundation and co-founder of Hep B Free, Koy Parada, co-chair of Hep B Free LA, Pamela Huntoon from Councilmember Jan Perry's office, Mimi Chang co-chair of Hep B Free LA, and Brian Risley, co-chair Hep C Task Force LA.

“San Francisco and Los Angeles took an important step forward in the fight against viral hepatitis,” said Ted Fang, co-founder of the Hep B Free movement. “Hepatitis B and C advocates will continue to work together to make sure that everyone knows how to prevent viral hepatitis and for those who have hepatitis B or C to know their status and be linked to lifesaving treatment and care.”

“We won’t win the fight against viral hepatitis without leadership at the national, state, and local levels,” added Robin Roth, co-chair of the San Francisco Hepatitis C Task Force. “We commend the CDC for establishing this historic testing day and our elected officials in San Francisco who have committed to addressing the growing epidemic.”

For more information about National Hepatitis Testing Day, go to
www.cdc.gov/Hepatitis/TestingDay/

www.sfhepbfree.org
www.hepcsf.org

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