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World Hepatitis Day on July 28

Governor Josh Green has issued a proclamation declaring “Hawaiʻi Hepatitis Day” on July 28.

The date marks the birthday of Dr. Baruch Blumberg (1925-2011), who discovered the hepatitis B virus in 1967 and developed a hepatitis B vaccine two years later. Hepatitis impacts more than 354 million people across the globe, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

HHHRC and Hep Free Hawaiʻi will convene a stakeholder gathering on July 27 to discuss progress and challenges regarding “Hep Free 2030,” a statewide strategy to eliminate hepatitis A, B, and C in Hawaiʻi.

The organizations recently sent a letter to each member of Hawaiʻi’s congressional delegation asking them to support the White House Hepatitis C Elimination Plan, which creates a test-to-treat model that ensures people get tested for hepatitis C and have access to low-cost direct-acting antiviral medication (DAAs) immediately after diagnosis.

A recent CDC analysis found that only about one-third of those with a documented hepatitis C diagnosis were cured over the past decade.

Earlier this year, the Med-Quest Division of the state Department of Human Services issued a provider memo that should expand access to life-saving treatment for viral hepatitis C, one of the leading causes of liver cancer in Hawaiʻi. The memo affirms that patients with chronic HCV can be treated at any stage and that the use of alcohol and other substances will not preclude access to DAAs.

No-cost hepatitis C screening is available on an appointment basis at HHHRC’s clinic in Kakaʻako.

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