H.R. NO.

















     WHEREAS, approximately 4,000 preventable hepatitis-related deaths occur worldwide each day, even though there is an effective cure for hepatitis C and a vaccine and effective treatment for hepatitis B; and


     WHEREAS, approximately three hundred million individuals worldwide are living with viral hepatitis but are unaware of their condition and therefore unable to take actions to protect themselves and others; and


     WHEREAS, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends vaccination against hepatitis B for all infants, all children younger than nineteen years of age who have not been vaccinated, individuals with hepatitis C or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, individuals with chronic liver disease, individuals at risk for infection by exposure to blood or by sexual exposure, imprisoned individuals, and international travelers to countries where hepatitis B is common; and


     WHEREAS, the CDC recommends that individuals born between 1945 and 1965 be tested for hepatitis C; and


     WHEREAS, the Hawaii Opioid Initiative State Plan recognizes that the opioid epidemic has contributed to increasing hepatitis infections across the United States, including among youth; and


     WHEREAS, increasing insurance coverage and developing more safe and effective medications for combating hepatitis B and curing hepatitis C have made the prevention, screening, and treatment of both diseases increasingly accessible and worthwhile; and


     WHEREAS, Hawaii has one of the highest rates of liver cancer in the nation, the leading causes of which are hepatitis B and C; and


     WHEREAS, there are up to 63,000 individuals in the State possibly affected with hepatitis B or C; and


     WHEREAS, the State is currently engaged in proactive measures to combat viral hepatitis among underserved and at-risk communities, including:


     (1)  Recently expanding Med-QUEST access to hepatitis C medications, pursuant to recommendations from the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases;


     (2)  Maintaining its longstanding syringe access program to curb the spread of hepatitis C among individuals who inject drugs;


     (3)  Identifying and supporting foreign-born pregnant women and their families at risk for hepatitis B; and


     (4)  Ensuring that homeless communities are immunized against hepatitis A to prevent outbreaks; and


     WHEREAS, the Harm Reduction Services Branch of the Department of Health offers many viral hepatitis services through the Viral Hepatitis Education and Prevention Program, including vaccines, testing, education, training, and community engagement; and


     WHEREAS, Hep Free Hawaii was formed as a community coalition of over ninety partners and stakeholders, including medical professionals, public health professionals, community advocates, and harm reduction providers -- all dedicated to increasing awareness of and access to viral hepatitis B and C care services in Hawaii; and


     WHEREAS, Hep Free Hawaii's mission is to raise awareness of and increase access for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of liver disease, especially viral hepatitis and related harms; and


     WHEREAS, the federal Department of Health and Human Services has issued a National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan, recommending collaborative efforts to prevent new infections; reduce deaths and improve health; reduce disparities; and coordinate, monitor, and report on activities; and


     WHEREAS, the vision of the National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan is as follows: "The United States will be a place where new viral hepatitis infections have been eliminated, where all people with chronic hepatitis B and C know their status, and everyone with chronic hepatitis B and C has access to high quality health care and curative treatments, free from stigma and discrimination."; and


     WHEREAS, the National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan recognizes the disproportionate impact of viral hepatitis on some populations, including baby boomers, individuals who inject drugs, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, African-Americans, individuals in correctional facilities, veterans, homeless individuals, men who have sex with men, pregnant women, and individuals with HIV; and


     WHEREAS, the National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan identified several challenges that need to be addressed to improve the response to viral hepatitis, including limited data, low provider awareness, low public awareness and low perceived risk, limited public health and health system response, the high cost of treatment, and stigma and discrimination; and


     WHEREAS, a growing number of states, localities, health systems, and non-governmental organizations have undertaken a range of collaborative efforts aimed at elimination of viral hepatitis; and


     WHEREAS, the Harm Reduction Services Branch of the Department of Health; Hep Free Hawaii; and other stakeholders, including the Lieutenant Governor, have declared the elimination of viral hepatitis in Hawaii an achievable and important priority, with implementation planning initiated at the Hawaii Hepatitis Elimination Planning Summit in Honolulu on July 28, 2019; now, therefore,


     BE IT RESOLVED by the House of Representatives of the Thirtieth Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2020, that this body hereby recognizes and supports the ongoing collaborative efforts between the Department of Health, Hep Free Hawaii, and others to produce a Statewide plan to eliminate viral hepatitis in Hawaii, which would be the first of its kind in the nation; and


     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this statewide plan, including plans for implementation and any recommended legislation, will be presented at an informational briefing to the Legislature prior to the convening of the Regular Session of 2021; and


     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that certified copies of this Resolution be transmitted to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Director of Health, Branch Chief of the Harm Reduction Services Branch of the Department of Health, and Executive Director of the Hawaii Health and Harm Reduction Center.









Report Title: 

Elimination of Viral Hepatitis in Hawaii