B Free CEED Holds a Special Event in Support of New CDC Guidelines to Screen All Asian & Pacific Islanders for Hepatitis B

October 14, 2008

New York University and B Free National  Center of Excellence in the Elimination of Hepatitis B Disparities (B Free CEED) held a special event to commend the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for recognizing the increased burden of hepatitis B in Asian and Pacific Islanders (API).  Earlier this September, the CDC released new guidelines recommending that all individuals who have migrated from Asian countries be screened for hepatitis B.  

The two-part event was held on Tuesday, October 14, 2008 at the New York University Torch Club.

Jinny Park from KCS presents on the Asian American Hepatitis B Program during the Policy Forum

Learning from SF Hep B Free’s Successes & Challenges.
A lecture presentation by Janet Zola of the San Francisco Department of Health on San Francisco Hep B Free, a citywide campaign to screen, vaccinate and treat all San Francisco API residents for hepatitis B.

The New CDC Guidelines: Policy Implications for Hepatitis B Disparities.
An interactive policy forum with the following expert panelists:
- Geoff Beckett, Prevention Branch Chief, Division of Viral Hepatitis, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention;
- Alan Gerson, Council Member of District 1, New York City Council;
- Jinny Park, Director of Public Health and Research, Korean Community Services of Metro NY, Inc.;
- Eric Rude, Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinator, New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene;
- Janet Zola, Health Promotion Specialist, San Francisco Department of Public Health, Co-director, SF Hep B Free

The event was a unique opportunity for experts in the field of hepatitis B prevention, including community, and local and federal government stakeholders, to discuss strategies together to comprehensively address hepatitis B in NYC’s API community. While the speakers expressed strong support of the new CDC guidelines, almost all pointed to the general lack of funds and resources to support such an initiative. Despite this setback, the panelists vowed to work collaboratively to share resources and to develop creative strategies to reduce the burden of hepatitis B in the immigrant API community. Council Member Gerson enthusiastically spoke of his commitment to continue advocating for support from the NYC Council for hepatitis B activities, including the passage of a resolution to establish a goal of screening all API and other residents at high-risk of infection for hepatitis B.

An estimated 1.4 million individuals are infected with hepatitis B in the U.S. Approximately 600,000 of these individuals are API.  In NYC, home of the second largest API population in the U.S., an estimated 15% of API residents are infected with hepatitis B, compared to less than 1% of the general population. Over 1/3 of these individuals do not know they are infected.  The hepatitis B virus attacks the liver and can cause liver cancer and other chronic diseases. Each year 1 in 4 APIs who are chronically infected with hepatitis B will die from liver cancer or liver-related illnesses.  Hepatitis B is 500 times more infectious than HIV. Unlike HIV, however, hepatitis B is preventable with a safe and effective vaccine.

The B Free National Center of Excellence in the Elimination of Hepatitis B Disparities (B Free CEED) is a national resource and expert center committed to eliminating hepatitis B disparities in API communities. B Free CEED develops, evaluates, and disseminates evidence-based practices. A partnership of New York University School of Medicine and local and national coalition members, B Free CEED is one of eighteen Centers of Excellence in the Elimination of Disparities funded in 2007 under the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health Across the U.S. (REACH U.S.) program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Speakers & Panelists:
Geoff Beckett, PA-C, MPH
Mr. Beckett is the Prevention Branch Chief in the Division of Viral Hepatitis at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He previously served as the Assistant State Epidemiologist for Maine and Lead Consultant for Viral Hepatitis with the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists.

Alan Gerson
Council Member Gerson has served on the New York City Council representing District 1 for the past six years. He is an active member of several committees, including the Lower Manhattan Redevelopment, Economic Development, Finance, Parks & Recreation, and Youth Services.

Jinny Park
Ms. Park is the Director of the Public Health and Research Center at Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York, Inc. and serves as the Policy Co-Chair for B Free CEED.

Henry Pollack, MD
Dr. Pollack is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at NYU School of Medicine and serves as the Scientific Principal Investigator of B Free CEED.

Mariano J. Rey, MD
Dr. Rey is the Director of the NYU Institute of Community Health and Research as well as the Senior Associate Dean for Community Health Affairs at NYU School of Medicine. He is the Principal Investigator of the NIH-funded Center for the Study of Asian American Health and the CDC-funded B Free CEED.

Eric Rude, MSW
Mr. Rude is the Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinator within the Division of Disease Control at the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene. His 20+ year career in health and infectious disease prevention includes employment with various community-based organizations and government agencies.

Janet Zola, MPH
Ms. Zola has served in the field of health promotion for three decades. For the past 5 years she has directed the efforts of the San Francisco Department of Public Health to prevent transmission of hepatitis B in high-risk populations and leads the innovative San Francisco Hep B Free campaign.