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Meng Introduces Resolution to Recognize World Hepatitis Day

Jul 18, 2019
Press Release
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), Co-Chair of the Congressional Hepatitis Caucus, introduced legislation to recognize World Hepatitis Day, which is on Sunday, July 28th.  
Currently, an estimated 5.7 million people are living with the hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV). Despite its prevalence, awareness is low: close to three quarters of the population infected with HBV or HCV are unaware of their condition. Due to the asymptomatic nature of hepatitis B and C, most chronically infected people don’t even know about their infection until they experience crippling symptoms of cirrhosis (irreversible scarring of the liver) or liver cancer, many years after contracting the disease.
However, both HBV and HCV are completely preventable. By recognizing World Hepatitis Day, this resolution will raise awareness of this silent killer and encourage people from across the world to take preventative action, as well as urge greater partnerships between federal, state, and local health departments to eliminate new infections in the U.S.
A copy of the legislation can be viewed here.
“As Co-Chair of the Congressional Hepatitis Caucus, I am committed to raising awareness and making sure we dedicate resources to combating this disease,” said Rep. Meng. “In particular, the hepatitis B virus (HBV) disproportionately affects Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) who account for more than half of HBV cases in the United States despite making up only 6% of the population. I urge my colleagues to join me in commemorating World Hepatitis Day and emphasizing the importance of getting tested in order to stay healthy. I will continue to support finding a cure and raising awareness of this horrible disease in Congress.”

“Worldwide nearly 300 million people are living with hepatitis, though many are unaware they have the disease,” said Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA). “With increased public awareness, education and discussion surrounding the disease, we can take important steps to prevent and eliminate hepatitis. I am proud to join my Hepatitis Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Meng today in introducing this resolution and look forward to continuing our work to bring even more attention to this crucial issue.” 
“We need to raise the profile of viral hepatitis as an urgent public health priority,” said Hepatitis B Foundation Senior Vice President Chari Cohen, DrPH, MPH. “We can save millions of lives in the U.S. and worldwide by using the tools we have and building much-needed infrastructure to prevent, diagnose and treat hepatitis B and C infections. As we commemorate World Hepatitis Day 2019, we support the efforts of the Congressional Hepatitis Caucus to bring attention to this global epidemic.”
"World Hepatitis Day is an important day to raise awareness about the millions of people living with viral hepatitis both globally and in the United States, many of whom are unaware they are living with the disease,” said AIDS Institute Senior Policy Associate Frank Hood. “We have the ability to eliminate viral hepatitis in our lifetimes, but it will require a greater public health investment. We hope this resolution and increased awareness of the disease will result in more people being vaccinated, tested, and linked to life-saving care.”
“World Hepatitis Day sheds light on the needs of those living with viral hepatitis, particularly Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and other communities at risk in the United States and around the world,” said the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO) Executive Director and Hep B United Co-Chair Jeffrey Caballero. “AAPCHO is proud to stand with Rep. Meng, the Congressional Hepatitis Caucus, and our community partners in working to increase resources for viral hepatitis programs--particularly for hepatitis B--that will help prevent new cases, increase vaccinations, improve treatment, and ultimately save lives. We applaud the introduction of this resolution recognizing World Hepatitis Day and hope that it will bring more attention to the goal of elimination.”