- Joint effort supports early disease identification to connect at-risk patients to necessary care
- Local Department of Health estimates up to 40,000 people living in Hawaii have chronic hepatitis B (CHB), and only 1 percent of these people know their status
Tuesday, July 23, 2013 11:00 am EDT
(PRINCETON, N.J., July 23, 2013) – In conjunction with World Hepatitis Day, celebrated annually on July 28, Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY), Viral Hepatitis Action Coalition (VHAC), a partner of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Foundation and the Hawaii State Department of Health are convening leading community experts to discuss CHB in Hawaii and key barriers to diagnosis and treatment. This forum is part of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s long-term commitment to raising awareness of CHB and supporting programmatic efforts to reach at-risk communities.
It is estimated that 65 percent of all Americans infected with the hepatitis B virus are unaware of their status. Once infected with hepatitis B, the virus may stay with a person for a lifetime, and the hepatitis B virus can harm the liver, leading to complications. As many people who are infected show no signs or symptoms, they may be at risk for unknowingly passing the virus to others. There are 1.2 million people with this chronic disease in the United States, and 1 out of 12 Asian Americans has CHB. In Hawaii, over 93 percent of reported CHB cases identify as Asian or Pacific Islander.
To help address the spread of CHB and the unmet need in patient diagnosis, linkage to care and treatment, Bristol-Myers Squibb has awarded the CDC Foundation a grant to help support early disease identification and connect patients to necessary care.
“This panel discussion is part of a critical effort to help the people of Hawaii understand the risks associated with CHB and the importance of early diagnosis. Once diagnosed with CHB, patients need to be linked to care, evaluation and treatment,” said Carol L. Brosgart, M.D., senior advisor on science and policy, VHAC, at the CDC Foundation. “Patients may feel concerned that they will be stigmatized after a diagnosis due to cultural and/or social barriers. Stigma or fear of stigma can prevent patients from seeking appropriate care, counseling and treatment. It is important to come together as communities to educate the public about the risks of disease progression. And, for those who are not infected, testing for hepatitis B can lead to prevention of CHB.”
The panel discussion will include local Asian-American physicians who specialize in the management of CHB and community advocates, who will discuss diagnosis, testing and programs currently under way to educate patients about the disease. The event will take place on July 23 and will include:
- Thaddeus Pham, viral hepatitis prevention coordinator, Hawaii State Department of Health
- Naoky Tsai, M.D., University of Hawaii Cancer Center
- Simon Kim, M.D.
“For the people of Hawaii, there is a significant disparity between those who have CHB and those who know their status,” said Thaddeus Pham, viral hepatitis prevention coordinator at the Hawaii State Department of Health. “Through open dialogue about this disease, we hope to raise awareness about free screening as well as treatment and prevention options that can make a difference.”
About Hepatitis B and Bristol-Myers Squibb
While working at the forefront of treatment advancement in hepatitis B, Bristol-Myers Squibb acknowledges that hepatitis prevention and control programs are multi-faceted and may involve immunization, blood screening, injection safety, public health awareness and education, sexual health programs, surveillance, blood testing and treatment access. As part of this commitment, a series of grassroots educational events hosted by Bristol-Myers Squibb across the country continue to help raise awareness about hepatitis B so local Asian-American communities can better understand the cultural, psychosocial and other barriers that may be keeping patients from seeking care. For more information, visit www.FaceHepB.com.
Grant funding from this event will directly support testing, counseling and referral efforts in Hawaii, where there is a high-density of Asian-Pacific island-born residents and historically limited resources available to provide ongoing, sustainable programs.
About Bristol-Myers Squibb
Bristol-Myers Squibb is a global biopharmaceutical company whose mission is to discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases. For more information, please visit: http://www.bms.com or follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/bmsnews.
About the CDC Foundation
Established by Congress, the CDC Foundation helps the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) do more, faster, by forging effective partnerships between CDC and corporations, foundations and individuals to support CDC’s 24/7 work to fight threats to health and safety. The Foundation manages approximately 200 CDC-led programs in the U.S. and in countries around the world. Learn more at www.cdcfoundation.org.
About the Viral Hepatitis Action Coalition
The Viral Hepatitis Action Coalition is a public-private partnership developed by the CDC Foundation to help the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) make meaningful advances in the prevention, screening and treatment of viral hepatitis. Learn more at www.viralhepatitisaction.org.
About the Hawaii State Department of Health
The Adult Viral Hepatitis Prevention Program in the Hawaii State Department of Health aims to reduce the burden of viral hepatitis among communities in Hawaii by increasing awareness and enhancing access to hepatitis services (including testing, vaccinations, and linkage to medical care). The program is committed to achieving these objectives through partnership and collaboration with private and public agencies throughout the state. For more information on local efforts, go to www.hepfreehawaii.org.