National Council of Asian Pacific Americans Supports Increase in Hepatitis B Screenings
The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), along with several of its partner and member organizations, recently submitted comments to the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) supporting the inclusion of hepatitis B (HBV) screening as part of Medicare’s Preventive Services.
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) suffer disproportionately high rates of chronic hepatitis B and liver disease. In fact, AAPIs account for more than half of the hepatitis B infections in the United States and have liver cancer rates that are up to 13 times higher than Caucasian populations in the United States. If HBV screening is added as part of Medicare’s Preventive Services, Medicare will cover screenings for high-risk beneficiaries, many who may be unaware of their infection.
“Eradication of the hepatitis epidemic in our nation is possible with continued education, increased awareness, and screening and testing for populations most at risk,” said NCAPA National Director Christopher Kang. “Increased screening for at-risk populations such as AAPIs will help ensure that patients are linked to the critical care and supportive services they need for treatment.”
“Screening for hepatitis B is vital to the strengthen the health of our communities,” said Jeffrey Caballero, M.P.H., executive director of the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO) and co-chair of Hep B United. “The inclusion of hepatitis B screening as part of Medicare’s Preventive Services would be another step forward in our efforts to address and eliminate the many health disparities facing the diverse and medically underserved AAPI populations in the United States.”
Because HBV symptoms can often be masked or delayed, two-thirds of Americans are unaware of their infection, and screening can be a life-saving action for those who would otherwise fall victim to this ‘silent killer.’ NCAPA and its partners encourage CMS to add HBV screening as an additional preventive service in line with the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) grade B screening recommendation for those at risk for hepatitis B. Screening will help link patients to care and prevent even more costly treatments before the presence of the virus develops into advanced liver disease or cancer.
Based in Washington, D.C., the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans is a coalition of 35 national Asian Pacific American organizations that serves to represent the interests of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities and to provide a national voice for our communities’ concerns. Our communities are the fastest growing racial/ethnic group in the United States, currently making up approximately six percent of the population.