The hepatitis B and C epidemics and their unchecked growth among communities of color, people who use drugs, people who are incarcerated, and others are symptoms of larger systems of racism, discrimination, and stigma. NVHR is committed to addressing health inequities to improve the health of those living with or at risk for viral hepatitis. Check back in June 2022 for more information about our approach to health equity.
Health Equity in NVHR Policies & Programs
NVHR Coalition Involvement
- Adult Vaccine Access Coalition
- Coalition for Syringe Access
- Drug Policy Alliance’s Drug Policy Work Group
- Hep B United
- Urban Survivors Union
Disproportionately Impacted Communities
Hepatitis C disproportionately affects African Americans. From 1999-2002, HCV prevalence among African Americans (3.2%) was more than two times that of non-Hispanic whites (1.5%). Chronic liver disease, often hepatitis C-related, is a leading cause of death among African Americans ages 45-64. African Americans also have the highest mortality rates of liver cancer, of which HCV is a major cause.
Download a copy of NVHR’s fact sheet on hepatitis C in the African American community.
Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI)
Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) make up less than 5% of the total population in the United States, but account for more than 50% of Americans living with chronic hepatitis B. Nearly 70% of AAPIs living the US were born, or have parents who were born, in countries where hepatitis B is endemic.
Most AAPIs with hepatitis B were infected as infants or young children: approximately 1 in 12 AAPIs are living with chronic hepatitis B. In addition, hepatitis B-related liver cancer incidence is highest among AAPIs and the leading cause of cancer deaths in this population.
Baby Boomers and Veterans
More than 75 percent of Americans living with hepatitis C are Baby Boomers (born between 1945-1965), and many remain undiagnosed and unaware of their infection. Baby Boomers account for approximately 75% of deaths caused by hepatitis C each year, and an estimated 35% of undiagnosed Baby Boomers already have advanced liver disease. NVHR’s fact sheet outlines the urgency of screening this at-risk population.
Veterans from the Baby Boomer generation (born between 1945-1965) are at a higher risk of being having hepatitis C than any other Veteran group, according to report by Population Health Services. The Veterans Health Administration’s Office of Patient Care Services – Population Health Services, reports that Baby Boomer Veterans had a hepatitis C infection rate more than five times higher than other Veterans, and Veterans born in 1954 had the highest infection rate at 18.4 percent.
People Who Inject Drugs (PWID)
Though an estimated 80% of new HCV infections occur among people who inject drugs, this population is systematically denied access to new curative therapies and science-based prevention strategies in discussions surrounding hepatitis C treatment access. It is critical to prioritize this population for screening, linkage, and treatment both to address the community’s healthcare needs and to halt the increase in new infections.
Hispanics and Latinos
Hispanics and Latinos have an overall HCV prevalence of 2.6%, have faster liver fibrosis progression rates, are more likely to be coinfected with HIV, and contract HCV at an earlier age. Latinos also have a higher HCV mortality rate. CDC data for the year 2011 shows the hepatitis C mortality rate per 100,000 people was 4 for Caucasians and 7.15 – nearly two times higher – for Latinos.
The prevalence of HCV in Native Americans is largely unknown. However, Native Americans have the highest rate of acute HCV infection and the highest HCV-related mortality rate of any racial/ethnic group. From 2009 through 2013, AI/AN HCV-related mortality rate increased by 23.2% (CDC).
People Who Are Incarcerated
The prevalence of HCV is high among persons who are incarcerated, with studies estimating rates that range from 10% to more than 33%. Since over 90% of individuals in jail or prison will be released back to the community, addressing hepatitis C within correctional settings is an excellent opportunity to promote public health by increasing awareness, reducing transmission, and improving hepatitis-related outcomes, both during and after incarceration.
Click here for a fact sheet on hepatitis C in prisons and jails.
For more information about communities who are disproportionately impacted by viral hepatitis, see the HHS Viral Hepatitis National Strategic Plan.