HEALTH

Doctors aim to eliminate hepatitis by 2030

BY Michael Hill, Correspondent |

A group of doctors gathered at St. Barnabas Medical Center’s Viral Hepatitis Elimination Summit with a shared goal – to eliminate hepatitis by 2030.

Dr. Su Wang is the medical director of the St. Barnabas Center for Asian Health and the president-elect of the World Hepatitis Alliance. Wang, who has hepatitis B, said while the goal seem lofty, it’s entirely doable.

“We have all the tools. We have diagnostics. We have hep B vaccines. We know how to prevent it,” she said. “So, we can do it, but we just need to get all these tools to the right people. So, that’s going to be the make it or break it. Are we able to fill that gap?”

Dr. Navin Vij was diagnosed with hepatitis C during his first year of doctor training, likely caused by blood transfusions and other procedures he received from spending months in intensive neonatal care after he was born prematurely.

“I could have had something called cirrhosis where my liver would have been too damaged. I could have had cancer. I could have ultimately needed a liver transplant,” he said.

Now, having been cured by heavy doses of prescribed medicines, Vij says he’s determined the eliminate the liver infection.

The consensus in the room was clear: the efforts needs straight-talk strategies to stifle stigmas and collaborating clinicians with new approaches, such as requiring every newborn to get a hepatitis B dose within 24 hours of birth.

Dr. Wang said the government will soon recommend everyone 18 and older get tested for hepatitis C.