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Hepatitis B Foundation and AAPCHO Sponsor Congressional Briefing on 'Zero Tolerance for Hepatitis B'
Date:5/20/2008

Spotlights National Hepatitis B Awareness Week

DOYLESTOWN, Pa., May 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Recognizing National Hepatitis B Awareness Week May 19 - 23, 2008, the Hepatitis B Foundation and the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO) is hosting a Congressional briefing, "Zero Tolerance for Hepatitis B: the Health Needs of Women and Children," on May 20 at the U.S. Capitol with special guests Congressmen Mike Honda (CA) and Charles Dent (PA). It will call urgent attention to the health needs of pregnant women infected with hepatitis B and the protection of their newborns against this deadly virus. Patients and experts from the CDC and Johns Hopkins University Hospital have been invited to testify.

"With the availability of an effective vaccine and six approved therapies for chronic hepatitis B, no woman or child should be left behind," says Dr. Timothy Block, co-founder and president, Hepatitis B Foundation. With good vaccines and treatment options, the U.S. has the tools to effectively implement a zero tolerance policy against hepatitis B to protect the health of Americans.

Hepatitis B is the deadliest disease that can be prevented through infant vaccination. In the U.S., approximately 20,000 babies are born yearly to women with hepatitis B. Despite a national requirement that all newborns be vaccinated at birth against the hepatitis B virus (HBV), up to 1,500 newborns are chronically infected with HBV. Twenty-five percent will die prematurely from liver failure or cancer, usually in the prime of their adult lives.

There are national guidelines requiring all pregnant women be tested for hepatitis B and recommendations to educate and refer infected women to care. Local and state health departments lack necessary resources to implement the recommendations. According to Jeff Caballero, executive director, AAPCHO, "This gap in care results in jeopardizing the health of these infected women
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SOURCE Hepatitis B Foundation
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