Hep B United, a coalition of over 35 community organizations working in the United States to combat Hepatitis B, and AAPCHO, the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations, attended the 8th Annual Hep B Summit from December 2nd to the 4th. The summit is usually held in Washington DC near World Hepatitis Day (July 28). However, the event took place virtually this year due to the pandemic.
Community leaders, advocates, and people living with hepatitis B registered for the event, resulting in an estimate of 200 attendees. They discussed screening and prevention strategies as well as advocating for equitable access to healthcare in the current COVID-19 pandemic. In three days, the program covered 9 sessions that consisted of poster and sponsor presentations. There were opportunities to answer questions related to the summit contents and earn up to ~3,900 points! An activity feed and social wall were posted for participants to engage with.
#1. Welcome from the Co-Chairs: Kate Moraras, MPH, Chari Cohen, Dr. PH, MPH, and Jeff Caballero, MPH.
“We are to embark on the greatest challenge. We must make sure people who are vulnerable to Hep B receive the COVID-19 vaccine.”
#2. Bias and Racism Affect Healthcare – Invitation for Reflection.
Dr. Bernard Lopez, MD, defined concepts such as unconscious bias, microaggressions, stereotypes, and structural racism in the context of healthcare and health equity in our current social environment.
#3. Updates on Hepatitis B Cure and Where We Are Now In That Process
Dr. Tim Block, PhD, founder of Hepatitis B Foundation and Dr. John Tavis, PhD, professor at St. Louis University, MO, discussed hepatitis B cure research, current and future therapies, functional cure progresses, and thoughts on hepatitis B elimination.
#4. Elevating the Patient Voice
This session was presented by Chari Cohen, DrPH, MPH, Senior VP of Hep B Foundation who spoke about how documenting the live hepatitis B experience helps clinical trials and drug developers understand the importance of patients’ needs and desires. In relation to the powerful stories by #justB storytellers, Alice Chan, a retired nurse, discussed refugee healthcare services. Joe Balestreri, a representative from the LGBT community, and Wendy Look, a retired psychotherapist from Canada, also participated in the session.
#5: Federal Updates on Hepatitis B
This session provided an overview of progress made toward hepatitis B elimination at the federal level, including at the CDC Division of Hepatitis, the Office of Infectious Disease, and the HIV/AIDS Policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Carolyn Wester, MD, MPH, Director of the CDC Division of Viral Hepatitis discussed the National Viral Hepatitis Strategic Plan that mention Hepatitis B Core Indicators such as:
Reduction of acute hepatitis B infections by 20% by 2025 and 90% by 2030
Increase the rate of hepatitis B “birth dose” vaccination to 75% by 2025 and 90% by 2030
Increase the proportion of people with hepatitis B infection who are aware of their infection to 50% by 2025 and 90% by 2030
Reduce the rate of hepatitis B-related deaths by 20% by 2025 and 65% by 2030
Dr. Carol Jimenez, JD, Deputy Director for Strategic Initiatives and Jessica Deerin, MPH, epidemiologist, shared their presentation, Road to Elimination, where they spoke on the syndemic nature of viral hepatitis, HIV, STI, and vaccines to address stigma, discrimination and social determinants of health.
#6. Hepatitis B Education and Screening During Covid -19
Jane Pan, Executive Director of HBI-DC, advocated for the understanding of hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV through public-private partnerships with community-based organizations, institutions, pharmaceutical companies, and governmental institutes.
Dung Hua, MHA, Program Manager at Vietnamese American Cancer Foundation, discussed approaches to engage the community at different stages during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly when we cannot go out in the community and cannot meet face to face. These stages comprise of bridging the digital divide (go virtual/online), the economic divide (gap between the rich and poor), the usability divide (people cannot use a computer even if they got one for free), and the empowerment divide (enabling people to lead the lives they want). The VACF’s outreach strategies are to start small, identify the community’s needs, meet people where they are (even virtually), keep it simple, and focus on human connection to empower them.
Dr. Y-Uyen Nguyen, who works at Charles B. Wang Community Health Center in New York, spoke on outreach efforts during COVID-19. An example of an outreach effort is to have care managers continue to provide guidance to patients via telephone and act as a liaison between providers/pharmacies and patients. The health center presents educational webinars to the Chinese immigrant community and partners with the African Services Committee to present the webinars in English and French. Additionally, the center promotes hepatitis B services on social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WeChat).
Dr. Halimatou Konte, MD and Danait Yemane, MPH presented the African Services Committee program in New York City. They posed the question: How can Asian American providers engage with the East African community so that the latter can benefit from the free services? One approach is to speak with the imams and leaders in the African groups.
#7: Breakout sessions:
Integrating Hepatitis B into State and Local Viral Hepatitis Elimination Planning by Boatemaa Ntiri-Reid, JD, Lauren Orkis, DrPH, Thaddeus Pham, Hawaii Department of Health Services, and Jessie Schwartz, RN, MPH, New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene.
This session focused on methods that various state and local-level organizations have employed to ensure hepatitis B is included in strategic planning efforts and that hepatitis B remains an important part of the conversation around viral hepatitis awareness, prevention, care, and elimination.
The Path to Achieving Universal Adult Hepatitis B Vaccination by Michaela Jackson, MS, Hep B Foundation and Chia Wang, MD, MS, the HIT-B Project from International Community Health Services.
In the United States, approximately 75% of adults are not protected from Hepatitis B. The panelists discussed the current challenges in vaccinating adults for hepatitis B and the efforts in clinical settings to increase rates within this population as well as an overview of congressional funding that can be utilized to overcome the challenges we are facing.
Dr. Wang discussed reducing hepatitis B disparities through health information technology. Sonya Clay from Vaccinate Your Family in Arkansas also gave a list of U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate members who are Vax Champions.
DAY 3: Collaborations to Amplify Access and Equity
#8: Expanding Hepatitis B Outreach in Non-Traditional Settings
Daniel Ventricelli, Assistant Professor of Clinical Pharmacy at Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, University of the Sciences moderated this session.
Dr. Stacey Trooskin, MD, PhD, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Viral Hepatitis Programs at the Philadelphia FIGHT Community Health Centers spoke on redefining models of HCV/HBV testing and treatment. They also discussed efforts to bring HCV care to the community where patients can access services at community health centers, pharmacies, drug and alcohol clinics, PCPs/GPs, needle and syringe programs, and prisons.
Dr. Amy Jessop, PhD, MPH shared their work in investigating potential vaccines for viral diseases at private research institutions and in the pharmaceutical industry.
Dr. Jef Bratberg, PharmD, FAPhA, Clinical Professor at University of Rhode Island College of Pharmacy, discussed their experience as a co-investigator on a grant funded pilot project that promoted hepatitis vaccines in community pharmacies.
Alyssa Falleni, a pharmacy candidate at the University of Rhode Island, expressed their passion for viral hepatitis elimination efforts, substance use disorders, and social determinants of health impacting vulnerable populations.
This session provided insights and perspectives on how unconventional settings, such as pharmacies, harm reduction spaces, and correctional facilities, can serve as gateways for increasing hepatitis B vaccine uptake and care among vulnerable and difficult-to-reach communities. The information presented at the session applies to APHF’s mission, as it deals with APHF’s current and future outreach activities.
#9: Bias and Racism Create Significant Disparities in Healthcare – What will you do about it?
Dr. Bernard Lopez, MD, MS, continued their talk from day one of the summit. This session explored the myriad ways in which structural and institutional embedded racism have serious impacts on health and healthcare, particularly for minority populations in the United States. Dr. Lopez shared steps that individuals can take to rectify harmful behaviors and operate from a place of health justice, paving the way for greater equity and improved health for all in the future.
Hep B United Awards Reception
Nine community leaders and partners were recognized as 2020 national and local Hepatitis B Champions. From California we had:
Amy Shen Tang, MD, Director of Immigrant Health, Northeast Medical Services, San Francisco
Richard So, MPH, MPA, Executive Director, San Francisco Hep B Free-Bay Area, San Francisco
Corinna Dan, RN, MPH, former Senior Policy Advisor and HIV/AIDS Policy, was conferred the first Hepatitis B Federal Champion Award.
APHF was also able to present our poster in the Poster Gallery!
Evaluation of Hepatitis B Prevalence and Vaccination Status in San Diego County by: Vivian Ngo, Nguyen Vo, Thu Vuong, James Pham, David Lam, Andrew Liu, Danh Truong, France Nguyen, Binh Tran, Kayla Giang, Robert Gish, Palmer Taylor. Video narrated by Vivian Ngo and edited by David Egen.
There was also an Exhibit Hall that featured the sponsors Dynavax, Gilead Sciences, and Janssen.
The summit organizers and Oliver the mascot expressed their gratitude towards the participants who also shared their appreciation for an excellent Hep B United Summit.
Attending from APHF: Kayla Giang, PharmD, Binh Tran, PharmD, Nguyen Vo, PharmDc, Vivian Ngo, PharmDc, Thu Vuong, Robert Gish, MD
From Hep B Free Los Angeles: Koy Parada, PhDc, MPH, Mimi Chang, DNP