July 28, 2017

Hirono Leads Call for the Elimination of Viral Hepatitis

More than 5,300,000 Individuals Live with Viral Hepatitis in the United States

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) introduced a resolution today to recognize July 28, 2017, as World Hepatitis Day 2017, and to encourage the elimination of viral hepatitis.

“Millions of Americans live with viral hepatitis, including nearly ten percent of all Asian American and Pacific Islanders who live with hepatitis B virus (HBV) and account for more than half of all HBV cases in the United States,” said Senator Hirono. “Through increasing access to prevention and treatment resources, we can continue momentum toward eliminating this debilitating disease and end the battle against viral hepatitis.”

The resolution was introduced in the U.S. House by Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY-06), and cosponsored in the U.S. Senate by Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.).

“AAPIs are disproportionately affected by the hepatitis B virus (HBV), which can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure, or liver cancer if left untreated,” said Congresswoman Meng who serves as Co-Chair of the Congressional Hepatitis Caucus. “AAPIs account for more than 50% of HBV cases in the United States, though we make up only 6% of our total population, and we are 8-13 times more likely to develop liver cancer from the virus than other groups. We must continue to educate the AAPI community on the risks associated with the virus, as well as the importance of getting tested. I am proud to have introduced a resolution in Congress expressing support for World Hepatitis Day, and to have requested in appropriations legislation that the National Institute of Health intensify its current effort to find a cure for HBV. We won’t stop until we find a cure.”  

Worldwide, an estimated 240 million individuals are chronically infected with hepatitis B virus, and an estimated 686,000 individuals die each year due to the disease. In addition, an estimated 150 million individuals are chronically infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV), and 700,000 individuals die from the disease each year.

Closer to home, in the United States, 1.4 million individuals are chronically infected with HBV and 2.7 million are infected with HCV—despite existing treatment and prevention methods.

In coordination with the World Health Organization and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, World Hepatitis Day promotes awareness of viral hepatitis and the global efforts to eliminate it.

To view today’s resolution, please click here.