Hep Free Hawai'i Strategic Planning Summit
Hep Free Hawaiʻi (HFH), a local coalition dedicated to increasing access to viral hepatitis and harm reduction services in the state, organized the 2023 Hawaiʻi Hepatitis Elimination Strategy Summit on July 27 at Ruth’s Chris in honor of recognizing World Hepatitis Day on Friday, July 28. With the help of Hawaiʻi Health & Harm Reduction Center (HHHRC), Dynavax Technologies, the Department of Health Harm Reduction Services Branch, AbbVie, and Gilead Sciences, this event assessed the progress of ongoing efforts around a statewide strategy toward eliminating viral hepatitis.
In attendance on behalf of Governor Josh Green, Deputy Director Debbie Kim Morikawa presented the Proclamation on World Hepatitis Day. Following, the 2023 Hep Free Hero award was awarded to Richard Smith, a local champion who has demonstrated a commitment to improving their community’s awareness of and action towards hepatitis elimination in Hawaiʻi.
Five advocates presented the recent successes made within HFH’s five priority areas: awareness and education, access to services, advocacy at all levels, equity in everything, and data for decision-making. Though it is important to highlight the advancements made towards eliminating hepatitis, attendees were also asked to discuss the challenges they are still facing with educating, screening, and treating hepatitis. HHHRC Executive Director and HFH co-director Heather Lusk closed the event by listing calls to action with hopes of truly eliminating hepatitis by 2030.