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p h i l a m e d s o c  .org

FEATURE

Addressing Hepatitis B
in Philadelphia
By Co-Authors:
Chari Cohen, DrPH, MPH, Vice President, Public Health and Programs, Hepatitis B Foundation
Catherine Freeland, MPH, Public Health Program Manager, Hepatitis B Foundation

H

epatitis B remains one of the most common viruses in
the world. Of the 2.2 million chronically infected in the
U.S., only 25 percent are aware of their infection, and
less than 10 percent remain in ongoing care and treatment. About
one-quarter of those who remain undiagnosed will ultimately die
from hepatitis B-related disease - leaving us with approximately
412,000 deaths that could be prevented. The key to preventing deaths
is diagnosing those infected and making sure they get appropriate
care and treatment. Now, more than ever, we should make this a
priority. We have the tools necessary to save lives.

In 2016, the World Health
Organization called for the elimination of viral hepatitis by 2030.
This was followed by a National
Academies of Science, Engineering
and Medicine (NASEM) report,
which stated that the elimination of
viral hepatitis in the U.S. is a feasible
and worthy goal. Currently, those
with chronic hepatitis B infection
are at significant increased risk for
dying prematurely of cirrhosis or
liver cancer. Those most likely to be
infected in the U.S. are first- and
second-generation Americans from

38 Philadelphia Medicine : Spring 2018

areas of the world where hepatitis B is endemic (darker blue areas of
the map; source, CDC 2008). Eliminating hepatitis B in the U.S.
must have a two-pronged approach, including vaccination of those
susceptible, and testing of those at high-risk (followed by linkage
to care and treatment of those infected). In both of these areas, we
need to do a better job.
Both the CDC and the United States Preventive Services Task
Force (USPSTF) have guidelines for risk-based hepatitis B screening.
In 2014, the USPSTF gave risk-based screening a grade of "B",


https://philamedsoc.org/

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