Capitol Words a project of the Sunlight Foundation

  • and

Supporting Goals And Ideals Of National Hepatitis B Awareness Week

Rep. Tim Murphy

legislator photo

Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that the Committee on Energy and Commerce be discharged from further consideration of the resolution (H. Res. 250) supporting the goals and ideals of National Hepatitis B Awareness Week, and ask for its immediate consideration in the House.

The Clerk read the title of the resolution.

Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Pennsylvania?

There was no objection.

The Clerk read the resolution as follows:

Whereas hepatitis B is the most common serious liver infection in the world; Whereas chronic hepatitis B infections cause 80 percent of all primary liver cancer cases worldwide; Whereas 10,000,000 to 30,000,000 people will be infected with the hepatitis B virus worldwide in 2005; Whereas approximately 100,000 people in the United States will become infected with hepatitis B virus this year alone; Whereas fewer than 10 percent of diagnosed chronic hepatitis B patients in the United States are currently receiving treatment for their disease; Whereas healthcare and work loss costs from liver disease and liver cancer-caused hepatitis B infections total more than $700,000,000 annually; Whereas the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (``CDC'') estimates that 1,250,000 Americans are already infected with hepatitis B and nearly 6,000 will die of liver complications each year; Whereas a person who has become infected with hepatitis B may not have symptoms for up to 40 years after the initial infection has occurred, and there is currently no routine screening in place for early detection; Whereas the CDC has identified African-Americans, Asian- Americans, and Pacific Islanders, as well as Native Americans and Alaskan Natives, as having higher rates of hepatitis B infection in the United States; Whereas Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders account for more than half of the chronic hepatitis B cases and half of the deaths resulting from chronic hepatitis B infection in the United States; Whereas there is a need for a comprehensive public education and awareness campaign designed to help infected patients and their physicians identify and manage the secondary prevention of the disease and to help increase the length and quality of life for those diagnosed with chronic hepatitis B; and Whereas the week of May 9, 2005, would be an appropriate week to observe National Hepatitis B Awareness Week: Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the House of Representatives-- (1) supports the goals and ideals of National Hepatitis B Awareness Week; (2) calls upon the people of the United States to observe the week with appropriate programs and activities; and (3) supports raising awareness of the consequences of untreated chronic hepatitis B and the urgency to seek appropriate care as a serious public health issue.

Rep. Michael M. Honda

legislator photo

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H. Res. 250, a resolution that recognizes the goals and ideals of the week of May 9th as National Hepatitis B Awareness Week.

I first want to thank Mr. Murphy for his leadership on this resolution.

During the week of May 9, health advocates from around the country will be putting on a national media campaign, ``Aim for the B,'' to raise awareness about the disease and to educate the community about prevention through testing and vaccination.

Mr. Speaker, the numbers are startling. In the United States, 12 million people (1 out of 20) have been infected at some time in their lives with the hepatitis B virus, more than one million people in the U.S. have developed chronic hepatitis B infection, and more than 5,000 Americans die from hepatitis B-related liver complications each year.

Chronic hepatitis B is often called a ``silent disease'' because more than two-thirds of the 12 million Americans infected with hepatitis B have no recognized symptoms. Of those who are diagnosed, fewer than ten percent seek long-term medical care that could allow more hepatitis patients to lead long and healthy lives. Those who do not receive treatment often suffer cirrhosis of the liver, liver failure and liver cancer.

Asian Pacific Islander Americans (APIAs) are particularly susceptible to this disease--as many as 1 out of 10 APIAs are chronically infected with the hepatitis B virus. Accordingly, liver cancer rates among males are 13 times higher among Vietnamese Americans, eight times higher among Korean Americans, and six times higher among Chinese Americans than among the general population.

The most common route of infection among APIAs is through mother-to-child transmission. In the United States, APIA children were found to have low vaccination rates despite national vaccination guidelines and availability. Many children worldwide remain unvaccinated and may become chronically infected as adults. Furthermore, the incidence of liver cancer among APIA ethnic groups is 1.7 to 11.3 times higher than rates among Caucasian Americans.

Hepatitis B is extremely infectious. In fact, the disease is 100 times more infectious than HIV. Most healthy adults (90 percent) who are infected will recover and develop protective antibodies against future hepatitis B infections. A small number (5 to 10 percent) will be unable to get rid of the virus and will develop chronic infection.

Mr. Speaker, as Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I want to say it loud and clear so that there is no misunderstanding. Hepatitis B is a public health emergency for Asian Pacific Islander Americans.

We need to break the silence and bring awareness to our community about this disease. Hepatitis B diagnosis does not have to be a death sentence. The weapons to combat this disease are available, including vaccination, early diagnosis and treatments. During National Hepatitis B Awareness Week, events will be held across the United States to raise awareness about hepatitis B, educate sufferers and their physicians about improved methods of treatment and prevention, and open the dialogue within communities to stop the transmission of this virus.

Recognizing the goals of National Hepatitis B Awareness Week is an important step in efforts to increase awareness about this deadly virus. This resolution also seeks to honor those in the community and in medicine who seek to prevent additional cases of hepatitis B and improve the quality of life for those who have already contracted it.

We all have constituents affected by this disease, so let us come together and support a comprehensive response and spread awareness on prevention.

I urge my colleagues to support this resolution and all of the events during National Hepatitis B Awareness Week.

The resolution was agreed to.

A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.