The evening's keynote speaker was Dr. J. Nadine Gracia. An epidemiologist and pediatrician, Dr. Gracia serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health and the Director of the Office of Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). A longtime advocate for health equity, Dr. Gracia spoke to the disproportionate impact hepatitis B has on communities of color, especially Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (one in twelve has hep B) and African immigrant communities (one in ten).
Virginia Delegate Mark Keam provided opening remarks. He spoke frankly to his own initial lack of knowledge about hep B and its potentially fatal consequences - if left untreated, hep B can cause liver disease and liver cancer. Since learning about hep B's impact on his constituents, however, Delegate Keam sponsored a bill that marks May 19th as Hepatitis Awareness Day in Virginia. The resolution passed unanimously this past January.
Hepatitis B Initiative Executive Director Jane Pan presented awards to ten committed doctors, who have volunteered their time to helped screen 2,100 individuals and administer 550 vaccines over the past two years. The physicians included Dr. Mo-Ping Chow, Dr. Chan-Hing Ma Ho, Dr. Sibte Kazmi, Dr. Andrew Lee, Dr. Mark Li, Dr. Gregory Pappas, Dr. Natarajan Ravendhran, Dr. Sang Tran, Dr. Hon Yuen Wong, and Dr. Benson Yu. These doctors formed HBI-DC's inaugural Leadership Circle. The Leadership Circle will spearhead the "Honor Roll" initiative, pledging to make hep B screening a routine part of health exams for all at-risk patients, as well as mentoring other physicians in best practices for treating people who live with hep B.
Envisioning a world free of liver disease caused by hepatitis B, the Hepatitis B Initiative of Washington, D.C. provides education, screening, vaccinations and linkages to care to at-risk communities in the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.