March 12, 2008 Advocacy Day Information
The CalHEP meeting started with an opportunity to network with others working in the field of hepatitis and to learn about members organizations from around the state. Several members brought material about hepatitis B and C, the liver, treatment options, and support services to share with their colleagues.
Diana Sylvestre, MD, CalHEP’s chair presented thought provoking information about the consequences of hepatitis C. Dr. Sylvestre put a human face on this epidemic and also spoke about the cost to the state. For more information on cost download the Cost of Hepatitis Fact Sheet.
Eddie Cheung MD, provided startling information about the severity of HBV and that “90% of persons receiving the 3-dose vaccination series develop preventable antibodies [at a cost of] $200 for the full course compared to HBV treatment at $2,000 – $16, 000/year” Dr. Cheung also discussed the prevalence of HBV in Asian Pacific Islanders (API) and the ethnic disparities in liver cancer, noting that “as many as 1 out of 10 API Americans are chronically infected with HBV.”
Assemblymember Fiona Ma spoke about her personal struggles with Hepatitis B and called for awareness through advocacy. Assemblymember Ma Recently introduced AB 158, addressing MediCal benefits for persons with hepatitis B.
Glenn Backes, CalHEP policy consultant, brought attention to the the advocacy meetings that were scheduled with senators and assemblymembers later in the day. He gave the advocates tips on how best to approach the meetings. Mr. Backes also discussed Assemblymenber Mervyn Dymally’s bill is about control of vhepatitis and prevention of liver cancer.
Actor and author, Christopher Kennedy Lawford, CalHEP’s honorary chair, made the keynote address. Mr. Lawford infused his serious topic with humor and aplomb. A survivor of Hepatitis C, he spoke about his struggles with drug use that exposed him to the hepatitis C virus for which he was treated and cured in 2002.
The day culminated in meetings with Senators, Assemblymembers and their staffs, as well as a meeting with the Governor. CalHEP’s five regional advocacy teams accomplished more than 30 informational meetings in about two hours!