U.S. Government and Non-Profit Organizations Join Forces to Raise Awareness of Hepatitis B, Leading Cause of Liver Cancer

Release by Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations


On September 14, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, the Hepatitis B Foundation and the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO) launched a new campaign to raise awareness of chronic hepatitis B among Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage.  Chronic hepatitis B is a life-threatening liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). The focus of the campaign is a new television public service announcement (PSA) that encourages Asian Americans to get tested for this preventable and treatable disease.

Chronic hepatitis B is known as a silent killer because it can slowly destroy the liver over time without causing noticeable symptoms.  As the world’s leading cause of liver cancer, HBV is second only to tobacco among known human carcinogens.  Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander descent experience the greatest burden of the disease in the United States.  Although Asian Americans comprise only 5 percent of the U.S. population, they represent more than half of the estimated 1.4 to 2 million people chronically infected with hepatitis B in this country.

Hepatitis B can be diagnosed with a simple blood test.  Yet alarmingly, as many as two-thirds of Asian Americans living with the disease do not know they are infected.  The new PSA, noting that one in ten Asian Americans has hepatitis B, asks, “Could you be one of them?”   Viewers are encouraged to visit www.hepb.org, where information about the disease is available in several Asian languages.

The PSA will begin airing in September on network affiliates and community stations in metropolitan areas with significant Asian populations, including Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Seattle and Washington, D.C.  Importantly, the PSA has been translated into Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean for relevant in-language programming.  The PSA is supported by funding from Gilead Sciences, a maker of hepatitis treatments.

The new campaign reflects increasing momentum to address chronic hepatitis B in the United States.  In January 2010, the Institute of Medicine published a landmark report recommending new policy, legislative, community and medical efforts to confront and control the disease.  Additionally, HBV screening campaigns have been launched in a number of U.S. cities, and proposed federal legislation calling for increased funding for hepatitis prevention and care is currently pending in Congress.

For more information or to request a copy or images of the PSA, please contact Lauren Graham at lgraham@hepBscreening.org or (212) 584-5015.


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