Hepatitis B is a serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the liver. It is transmitted by direct contact with blood and body fluids of a person who has the virus. In 15-40% of individuals infected, hepatitis B may lead to serious damage to the liver, including cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), liver cancer and death. Although there is no cure for hepatitis B, it is treatable and vaccine preventable.
Hepatitis B is a disease that disproportionately affects the Asian and Pacific Islander, and other refugee and immigrant communities. To address this issue, a coalition comprised of various stakeholders directly involved in providing hepatitis-related care and service to at-risk communities was created. Formerly known as the WA State Asian Pacific Islander Hepatitis B Task Force (APITF), the Hepatitis B Coalition of Washington (HBCW) was created in 1997. Since 2013, ICHS has led the work of the coalition, which is committed to increasing hepatitis B awareness.
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Expand each section to find out more about the HBCW and Hepatitis B.
HEPATITIS B COALITION OF WASHINGTON (HBCW)
Formerly known as the WA State Asian Pacific Islander Hepatitis B Task Force (APITF), HBCW (name adopted in 2009) was created in 1997 to address the diverse composition of stakeholders directly involved in providing hepatitis related care and service to the at risk communities. Since then, the coalition has worked to reduce hepatitis B disease and its complications through innovation, education, and community partnership by working with community based organizations, community clinics, health care facilities, and health departments to foster hepatitis B related care through educational outreach, testing, and improving linkage to care services.
Among the early notable works of the task force are its engagement in providing screening and vaccination at various Chinese language schools, launching media outreach campaigns that included press releases, radio ads, newspaper articles, videos, and digital stories to promote screening and vaccination programs, and its participation in various community forums.
After adopting the name Hepatitis B Coalition of Washington (HBCW) in 2009, the coalition expanded its work to other immigrant and refugee communities and disseminated Hep B educational materials such as a Hep B What You Need to Know brochure and Living with Chronic Hep B poster, that were also prepared in culturally appropriate manner and translated into different languages- Amharic, Somali, Chinese, Russian Samoan, Tagalog, Vietnamese etc.
In November of 2013, WithInReach, the former sponsor of the Hepatitis B Coalition of Washington transitioned coalition leadership. Since then, ICHS, with the support of its executive leadership, has assumed the responsibility of leading and maintaining the work of the coalition. After assuming the role of leadership, ICHS’ staff conducted two community meetings and a coalition membership survey, reaching in total 70 participants. Through this engagement process, the coalition members identified the following three primary areas of focus in line with the National Viral Hepatitis Plan for Prevention, Care, and Treatment:
1) Educating providers and communities to reduce health disparities,
2) Improving testing and linkage to care to prevent hepatitis B related liver disease and cancer, and
3) Eliminating transmission of vaccine-preventable viral hepatitis.
The Hepatitis B Coalition of Washington envisions a Washington State free of new hepatitis B infections, where all people know their HBV status, all HBV care provided is culturally competent, and HBV outcomes are equitable and disparities reduced.
We seek to impact health care systems, patients/community members at risk and health care providers. Through education, screening, and vaccination, we seek to prevent transmission of Hepatitis B (HBV) especially in the area of perinatal HBV, to ensure linkage to care for those managing chronic HBV, and to ensure that all care accessed is culturally
- INCREASE HEPATITIS B AWARENESSIncreasing awareness about hepatitis B is one of the major functions of the coalition. The coalition achieves these by reminding/educating patients to be screened, reminding providers to offer screening, continuing to produce culturally appropriate multi lingual materials and disseminating them to communities and Posing blogs and educational articles in our website for the public to read. The coalition has also produced “patient Cards”- pocket size cards with written in English and the language a particular patient speaks reminding the provider to test him/her for hepatitis B. Digital stories narrated by patients of their experience with Hep B are also among the powerful tools used to raise awareness.
- INTEGRATE HEPATITIS B INTO PRIMARY CAREThe Coalition also works towards Identifying barriers and challenges to the integration such as lack of funding, limited source of health care for low income, uninsured/underinsured people testing positive for viral hepatitis, and lack of data systems to adequately and efficiently track services
- INCREASE VACCINATION RATE– Continuing to advocate for viral hepatitis policies
– Continuing to conduct screening and vaccination programs
– Continuing to do media outreach campaigns- press release, radio ads, newspaper articles, videos and digital stories
– Conducting community forums
- INCREASE LINKAGE TO CARE– Identify infected persons in at risk-populations and refer HBsAg-positive persons to care
– Increase the number of persons who follow up on referrals and receive recommended care with the help of patient navigators
– Get more people signed up for ACA
- STRENGTHEN COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT– Expanding to other refugee and immigrant communities within the API and others
– Attend/participate in community events- especially in coalition forums
- STRENGTHEN RELATIONSHIP WITH NATIONAL ORGANIZATION– Continue to collaborate with national agencies such as Hepatitis B Task Force, Hep B United, Association of Asian and Pacific Community Health Organizations (APPCHO) Coalition Against Hepatitis for people of African Origin (CHIPO)
FAQ’s About the Coalition
What is the purpose/function of the coalition?
Why does the coalition only focus on Hepatitis B?
How long has the coalition existed?
How many members are part of the coalition?
Who can join the coalition?
How often does the coalition meet?
What is the time commitment expected from potential members?
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE/ FUNCTION OF THE COALITION?
The Hepatitis B Coalition’s purpose is to reduce hepatitis B disease and its complications through, innovation, education, and community partnership by working with community based organizations, community clinics, health care facilities, and health departments to conduct hepatitis B educational outreach, testing, and linkage to care services.
WHY DOES THE COALITION’S ONLY FOCUS ON HEPATITIS B?
Although Incidence rate of Hepatitis B has decreased more than 80% over the last 20 years, still approximately 1.2 million people have chronic Hepatitis. It is a health disparity that disproportionately affects the communities we serve: API and other Refugee and Immigrant communities of people born in countries with ≥8% chronic prevalence rate.
HOW LONG HAS THE COALITION EXISTED?
The coalition has existed since 1997. Originally it was named the WA State Asian Pacific Islander Hepatitis B Task Force (APITF). The current name adopted in 2009.
HOW MANY MEMBERS DOES THE COALITION COMPRISE?
Currently, 13 agencies make up the coalition
WHO CAN JOIN THE COALITION?
HBCW is a network of health care professionals and community volunteers, health departments, community clinics, and nonprofit organizations that collaborate to raise awareness and education about Hepatitis B in the at risk communities, promote conduct screening and vaccination programs and advocate for Hep B immunization policy. Any organization that serves the aforementioned communities can potentially join the coalition.
HOW OFTEN DOES THE COALITION MEET?
The coalition meets on the last Thursday of each month from 9:30-11 at the International Community Health International District Clinic located at 720 8th Ave South Seattle WA 98104.
WHAT IS THE TIME COMMITMENT EXPECTED FROM WOULD BE MEMBERS?
In addition to the monthly meeting, members may be asked to attend a community forum that is held once a year.
Hepatitis B FAQ
What is Hepatitis B?
Who is at risk of getting the disease?
How many people are affected in the US/Washington State?
How do I know if I have Hepatitis B?
How does Hepatitis B spread?
How can Hepatitis B be prevented?
How can Hepatitis B be treated?
What should I do now that I have this information?
WHAT IS HEPATITIS B?
It is a serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the liver. Hepatitis B may lead to serious damage to the liver, including cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), liver cancer, and death.
WHO IS AT HIGHER RISK OF GETTING THE DISEASE?
People most likely to get Hepatitis B are: People who live with or have sex with an infected person, men who have sex with me (MSM), people who have multiple sex partners, persons who use injection drugs, immigrants and children of immigrants from area with high rates of Hepatitis B, infants born to infected mothers, health care workers, hemodialysis patients, people who received a blood transfusion or blood products before 1987, and international travelers.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE AFFECTED IN THE US/WA STATE?
In the US, about 1.2-1.4 million people are chronically infected – about 20,000 live in WA state; meaning they will have this virus in their blood for life. People with chronic hepatitis B often feel fine and may not know they have hepatitis B. About 4,000-5,000 people die every year of liver disease related to chronic hepatitis B. Many people have hepatitis B and do not know it, thereby unknowingly passing it onto others.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE HEPATITIS B?
The only way to know if you have the hepatitis B virus is through a simple blood test. Ask your doctor for a hepatitis B blood test. Remember that hepatitis B is not a regular test of the annual medical exam.
HOW IS HEPATITIS B SPREAD?
By direct contact with blood and body fluids of a person who has hepatitis B, including:
- From a mother to her baby during delivery
- Sexual contact with a person who has hepatitis B
- Injection drug use
- Sharing of needles or instruments that have the hepatitis B virus (such as acupuncture needles, or instruments used in coining and cupping).
HOW CAN HEPATITIS B BE PREVENTED?
- Get the hepatitis B vaccine. It is safe and effective. It is a series of 3 shots given over 6 months.
- However, this vaccine is not effective if the person already has hepatitis B.
- Do not share anything between household members that may have blood on it, such as a toothbrush, razor, or nail clippers.
HOW CAN HEPATITIS B BE TREATED?
While there is no cure for hepatitis B, there is treatment. Treatment can include pills or injections. Not everyone will need treatment. Talk with your doctor about the right treatment plan for you. Many people who have hepatitis B can live a long life – be sure to follow a care/treatment plan.
WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW THAT I HAVE THIS INFORMATION
If you do not know whether or not you have the hepatitis B virus, you should get tested first. Your test result will show your status and therefore what you need to do next: whether you are infected (have the virus), need the 3-shot vaccine, need to be re-tested, or are protected from the virus.
For more stories similar to this, visit the Hepatitis B Coalition of Washington YouTube playlist. A few videos on this channel are also available in Vietnamese.
Mohammed Abdul-Kadir. MPH, MSIS
Hepatitis B Coalition of Washington (HBCW) Coordinator
International Community Health Services (ICHS)