As we approach World Hepatitis Day on July 28th, we are reminded of the staggering impact of Hepatitis B in Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. AAPIs make up approximately 5% of the US population, but comprise over 50% of Americans with chronic Hepatitis B. This means approximately 1 in 12 AAPIs are living with chronic Hepatitis B.
Last month, Assistant Secretary for Health Howard Koh, MD, MPH shared a “Dear Colleague” letter (PDF 206KB) with the AAPI community highlighting many valuable new information resources and tools about viral Hepatitis tailored specifically for AAPI populations. Since working to reduce the disproportionate impact of Hepatitis B in AAPI communities is an important priority of the White House Initiative on AAPIs and the Department of Health and Human Services, we wanted to share Dr. Koh’s letter with you and invite you to consider making use of some of these valuable resources yourself and in your work in your community.
In his message, Dr. Koh notes that, “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 [now] have access to a number of new tools to support our ongoing awareness efforts.”
Encourage your loved ones and community members to take an online Hepatitis risk assessment; increase awareness about Hepatitis Testing Day utilizing new posters available in English, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese; share a video public service announcement to encourage AAPIs to talk to their doctor about getting tested for Hepatitis; and access many more Hepatitis education materials for patients and health care providers.
Broader dissemination and use of these tools, especially by organizations working with AAPI communities at risk, will have a positive impact on our efforts to reduce viral Hepatitis disparities in the AAPI population. As Dr. Koh notes, “Working together, we can make great strides in addressing this epidemic.”
Kate Moraras, M.P.H., serves as Senior Advisor in the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and Corinna Dan, R.N., M.P.H., serves as Viral Hepatitis Policy Advisor in the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.