For Immediate Release

Media Contacts:
Kristen Hellwig
213.201.1435 (o)
khellwig@apla.org

U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Kicks Off 2nd National Hepatitis Testing Day in Los Angeles

Cure for hepatitis C on near horizon with breakthrough oral treatments

WHAT: In a press conference scheduled for May 17, Hep B Free Los Angeles and Hepatitis C Task Force of Los Angeles County are announcing the urgent need for hepatitis testing amid a rapid spike in deaths related to viral hepatitis on the eve of National Hepatitis Testing Day. Hep B Free Los Angeles and the Hepatitis C Task Force will be recognized by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for their efforts in disease awareness, education and linkage to care.

Hepatitis B and C together cause almost all liver cancers in the United States. Breakthrough hepatitis C treatments will soon be able to cure many of the 134,000 people living with the virus in Los Angeles County, if they seek testing, care and treatment. These interferon-free drug regimens with shorter duration of treatment and vastly improved response rates are on the near horizon as the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has fast-tracked approval of the most promising new direct acting drug agents. The CDC has declared May as Hepatitis Awareness Month, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued the first National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan to end hepatitis disease in America. Hep B Free Los Angeles and Hepatitis C Task Force of Los Angeles County are working with these efforts to increase awareness about viral hepatitis in Los Angeles and to make hepatitis B and C screening the standard of care for at-risk populations.

NOTE TO EDITORS: JWCH Institute offers free testing for Hepatitis B and C, as well as other communicable diseases for members of the press between 10am-12pm, and the general public between 12-2pm. Trained personnel for photo and video opportunities.

WHEN: Friday, May 17, 2012 at 10:00 AM

WHERE: Asian Pacific Liver Center at St. Vincent Medical Center
2200 W. Third Street
Los Angeles, 90057
Outside Courtyard

WHO: Honorable Fiona Ma, former California Assembly Speaker Pro-Tempore, honorary chair, Hep B Free-San Francisco
Herb Schultz, Regional Director, US Department of Health and Human Services, Region IX
Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, LA County Dept. of Public Health, Director of Communicable Disease Control & Prevention
Mimi Chang & Koy Parada, co-chairs, Hep B Free-Los Angeles
Danny Jenkins & Brian Risley, co-chairs, Hepatitis C Task Force for Los Angeles County
Dr. Alexander Li, LA County Dept. of Health Services, CEO, Ambulatory Care Network
Jackie Padilla, JWCH Institute, Mobile Testing Unit

WHY: The United States (U.S.) Centers for Disease Control (CDC) kicked off National Hepatitis Awareness Month this May, and organizers coordinating efforts in three of America’s biggest cities affected by the disease announced hepatitis screenings and a new public service announcement to highlight prevention of hepatitis B and C (HBV/HCV) disease. Screening events featured in the PSA are being held in New York, NY, Los Angeles, CA, and San Francisco, CA. Experts will discuss new and urgent concerns around viral hepatitis, which affects up to 5.3 million Americans and can lead to death and disability.

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) affects 1 in 12 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and 1 in 10 African immigrants, as well as those from several other racial/ethnic groups. HBV causes up to 80% of all cases of liver cancer worldwide, so those with HBV have a much higher risk of developing this deadly cancer. However, the good news is that there are ways to prevent and treat HBV and HCV infections, and there are treatments available for liver cancer. “Due to the prevalence of HBV infection, we encourage those at risk to be screened and those infected to be treated as soon as possible,” Herb Schultz, Regional Director of HHS Region IX (California) of the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs of HHS.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the most common chronic blood-borne viral infection and the most common cause of chronic liver disease in the United States. An estimated 4.1 million Americans (1.6%) are infected with HCV, and are at risk for developing cirrhosis and liver cancer. Many who have HCV are not aware, and most with acute infection show no symptoms. “While anyone can get hepatitis C, the baby boomer population, or those born from 1945-1965, are 5 times more likely to have the disease,” said Ron Valdiserri, M.D., M.P.H., Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Infectious Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Unfortunately, most people don’t know they are infected and therefore are not seeking necessary testing or treatment. We hope these efforts during National Hepatitis Awareness Month will encourage family members and friends, particularly baby boomers, to get tested for hepatitis.

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AIDS Project Los Angeles, one of the largest non-profit AIDS service organizations in the United States, provides bilingual direct care and treatment services to over 7,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles annually and leadership on HIV/AIDS-related policy and legislation. In 2013, APLA marked its 30th year of operation, and we are a community-based, volunteer-supported organization with local, national and global reach.

APLA Health & Wellness is a Federally Qualified Health Center providing primary medical care, oral healthcare, mental health services, HIV testing, STD screening/treatment and health education and HIV prevention services focusing on low income gay and bisexual men of color and transgender individuals. APLA Health & Wellness serves over 6,000 individuals across Los Angeles County each year.

For more information, visit apla.org.

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