"Building Bridges to Liver Health" is a new initiative between Saint Barnabas Medical Center (SBMC) in Livingston, New Jersey and Charles B. Wang Community Health Center (CBWCHC) in New York City to improve hepatitis B screening and care. This partnership was one of three programs selected nationally to receive a $300,000 grant from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Most people with hepatitis B were infected with the virus at birth or during early childhood and developed a lifelong chronic disease. Chronic hepatitis B infection is a major global problem and is the leading cause of liver cancer worldwide. Though the majority of the world is considered endemic for hepatitis B (see map), this disease has received little attention and up to 2 out 3 of those infected have not been diagnosed.
The Northern New Jersey and New York City metropolitan area has one of the most ethnically diverse populations in the nation. Together, SBMC and CBWCHC will increase hepatitis B education, screening, vaccination, and linkage to care to this high-need area. They will also partner with local organizations and providers to increase their capacity to screen and care for hepatitis B, with the goal of improving access and care to patients, and reducing the burden of hepatitis B in Asian Americans and other at-risk populations.
Dr. Su Wang, Medical Director for the Center for Asian Health (CAH) at SBMC and the Principal Investigator for the grant, says, "In New Jersey, many people have never been tested and do not realize that they have chronic hepatitis B. Because it can lead to liver cancer, early diagnosis and care is so important. This grant will bring important screening and linkage-to-care services to the community."
New Jersey has the 4th largest population of Asian Americans in the US, and the CAH began serving the needs of the growing Asian American population in 2013. "Up to 10% of Asians have chronic hepatitis B infection and are at risk for developing liver cancer. Hepatitis B is one of the greatest health disparities in the United States and as a nation we are behind in providing screening and care for these individuals."
CBWCHC has for the past three decades been a leader in screening and providing care for hepatitis B patients in the NYC area. Dr. Vivian Huang, Hepatitis B Program Director at CBWCHC, is "especially proud to be raising the profile of hepatitis B and liver cancer as an important public health priority for New Yorkers and New Jerseyans. Together through this partnership we are working to ensure our loved ones are protected and get the care they need, so that hepatitis B stops with the next generation!"
John F. Bonamo MD, MS, FACOG, FACPE, Executive Vice President/Chief Medical Officer, Barnabas Health, says, "We are honored to partner with the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, a national leader in the area of Asian health. This grant will allow us to devote additional resources toward outreach, screening, education and care. It will facilitate the provision of hepatitis B services to the Asian community within our region by linking infected individuals with high-quality, ongoing HBV-directed medical care."
Dr. Perry Pong, the Chief Medical Officer of CBWCHC says "This regional partnership aligns our efforts and will have an even more meaningful impact on the community. People cross the bridges surrounding NYC all the time - during their commute, to visit friends and family, to access important services. It's time that health initiatives be fluid and cross those bridges too."
Information to be screened for hepatitis B in New York City or Northern New Jersey
Free hepatitis testing is available by walking in to one of the SBMC labs in New Jersey and presenting the hepatitis B screening coupon that can be found here: www.LiverBWell.com. For more information about screening in New Jersey, contact The Center for Asian Health at 973.322.6777
Individuals at risk for hepatitis B who are interested in a free screening in New York City can contact Charles B. Wang Community Health Center at 212.379-6988 (Chinatown, Manhattan) or 718.886.1212 (Flushing, Queens).
For more information about upcoming hepatitis B events check out www.LiverBWell.com.
Figure 1. Countries where ≥2% of the population has hepatitis B infection. If individuals or their parents are born in one of the highlighted countries they should be screened for hepatitis B.
The Center for Asian Health (CAH) at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, NJ was launched in 2013 to serve the needs of the growing AAPI population. To learn more visit
The Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, a non-profit and federally qualified community health center, is a leader in Asian American health in NYC. To learn more about CBWCHC, visit
For more information about the CDC program and awardees, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/Partners/CommunityBasedHepBProgs.htm.