Huntington Hospital Hosts National Viral Hepatitis Testing Day Conference with Hep B Free-Los Angeles and Hepatitis C Task Force Los Angeles County

May 24, 2017

Robert Kim-Farley, MD, MPH, Director, Communicable Disease Control and Prevention, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Paula Verrette, MD, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Quality and Physician Services, Huntington Hospital, Edward Mena, MD, Huntington Hospital, Ying-Ying Goh, MD, MSHS, Health Officer, City of Pasadena Public Health Department presented at the National Viral Hepatitis Testing Day Stakeholder Breakfast and Conference.

National Viral Hepatitis Testing Day is May 19. This year, Huntington Hospital, in partnership with Hep B Free-Los Angeles and the Hepatitis C Task Force of Los Angeles County, hosted a conference and stakeholder breakfast, bringing together nearly 100 health advocates, community leaders, and religious leaders, who learned about viral hepatitis, particularly Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. The attendees developed strategies to reduce death and disability in their own communities from this preventable disease. Viral hepatitis is the leading cause of infectious mortality, and affects up to 5.3 million Americans and 400 million people worldwide.

“It is crucial to bring viral hepatitis awareness to the community," said Edward Mena, MD, hepatology, Huntington Hospital. "We are thankful for organizations such as HEP B Free-Los Angeles and Hepatitis C Task Force of Los Angeles County for bringing our community leaders together to discuss these diseases."

The conference began with a welcome by Paula Verrette, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer, quality and physician services, Huntington Hospital. Koy Parada, PhDc, MPH, Hep B Free-Los Angeles and Samuel Gonzalez, Hepatitis C Task Force for Los Angeles, acted as emcees for the event. Speakers included Edward Mena, MD, hepatology, Huntington Hospital, Tse-Ling Fong, MD, Asian Pacific Liver Center, Robert Kim-Farley, MD, MPH, director, communicable disease control and prevention, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and Ying-Ying Goh, MD, MSHS, health officer, City of Pasadena Public Health Department.

Conference attendees discussed strategies of increasing testing and treatment for Hepatitis B and C, and vaccination against Hepatitis B. For Hepatitis C, those who should be tested include the “baby boomer” generation (those born between 1945 and 1965), as well as those who have ever engaged in injection drug use or unprotected sex, as well as those who received a blood transfusion prior to 1985, or tattoos and piercings from unclean needles. For Hepatitis B, regardless of prior vaccination, all individuals from Asia or Africa should be tested.

“People can live with Hepatitis B or C for decades without feeling sick, but the virus may be causing damage to the liver during that time," said Ying-Ying Goh, MD, health officer, City of Pasadena Public Health Department. “There are lifesaving treatments that can prevent serious liver damage from Hepatitis B and treatments that can cure Hepatitis C infection. Talk to your doctor to get tested.”

Free screenings are offered at various locations throughout the greater Los Angeles area by the Asian Pacific Liver Center at St. Vincent Medical Center. For a list of upcoming testing dates and locations, please visit Asian Pacific Liver Center.

Tse-Ling Fong, MD, Asian Pacific Liver Center, discussed the risks of Hepatitis B.