On May 8, Gilead, APartnership, and Hepatitis B Initiative hosted a Q & A session with journalists in honor of hepatitis testing day on May 19. The Q & A session opened the remarks from Leslie Oh, the founder of the Hepatitis B Initiative, and panel discussion from panelists including Mark Li, Loc Le, and Theodore Kim.
The panelists stressed the importance of Hepatitis B testing: Oh said that Hepatitis B is one of the leading cause of cancer (it is directly linked to liver cancer) and over a million Asian Americans have Hepatitis B. In addition, Hepatitis B often has no symptoms until it is too late which is why testing is so important. Dr. Li cited a program started in Taiwan in which all children were vaccinated at birth. Li said that Hepatitis B is almost completely eradicated in Taiwan.
Gastroentorologist Loc Le said that 2/3 of Asian Americans do not know they have the disease. Of those who do know, only 40% of them are seeing a physician. And of those who are seeing a physician, only 20% of them are getting treatment. These statistics indicate that a lot more could be done to reduce the amount of Hepatitis B in our communities, panelists concluded.