with viral hepatitis — a disease that threatens the health of millions
of Americans and people across the globe. As a leading cause of liver
cancer in the United States, it remains a major public health challenge
here at home. Because the disease can persist for decades without
symptoms, many Americans who are chronically infected are unaware of
their infection status. On World Hepatitis Day, we call attention to
this silent epidemic, and we rededicate ourselves to the fight against
Hepatitis prevention and control begins
with awareness. Though all types of viral hepatitis are associated with
serious health issues, hepatitis B and C can become chronic infections
that often lead to liver cirrhosis or liver cancer. Tragically,
complications resulting from viral hepatitis claim thousands of American
lives every year — a burden borne disproportionately by African
American, Hispanic, and Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI)
communities, and by persons born between 1945 and 1965. Despite the
health issues associated with the disease, a majority of Americans
living with chronic hepatitis do not know they are infected.
Hepatitis A and B can be prevented with
vaccines, which are recommended for all children — and for adults who
are at high risk of contracting viral hepatitis. While no vaccine exists
for hepatitis C, early detection and treatment can curb transmission,
limit the disease’s progression, and prevent life-threatening
complications, including liver cancer.
I encourage all Americans to talk with a
physician about hepatitis prevention to learn more about what they can
do to stay healthy.
My Administration remains committed to
addressing viral hepatitis. As part of our Action Plan for the
Prevention, Care, and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis; the Healthy People
2020 initiative; and other Federal programs, agencies across the Federal
Government are partnering with States, communities, and stakeholders
throughout the private and nonprofit sectors to prevent new cases of
hepatitis and help Americans who have already been affected. We are
promoting hepatitis outreach and education that shines a light on this
public health issue. With the White House Initiative on Asian Americans
and Pacific Islanders, we are working to prevent, treat, and control
hepatitis B infections in AAPI communities. And by bringing health
insurance within reach for more Americans, the Affordable Care Act is
helping improve patient access to comprehensive viral hepatitis
prevention and treatment services.
On World Hepatitis Day, let us raise
awareness of the global health threat of viral hepatitis, renew our
support for those living with the disease, and recommit to a future free
of this tragic illness.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President
of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in
me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby
proclaim July 28, 2012, as World Hepatitis Day. I encourage citizens,
Government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and communities across the
Nation to join in activities that will increase awareness about
hepatitis and what we can do to prevent it.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my
hand this twenty-seventh day of July, in the year of our Lord two
thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America
the two hundred and thirty-seventh.