SF Hep B Free and Peninsula Health Care District lead the fight to eliminate hepatitis B in San Mateo County

Multipronged San Mateo Hep B Initiative announced and new U.S. Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC) guidance recommends testing all adults ages 18 for hepatitis B.
Millbrae, CA, April 9th 2023 – SF Hep B Free – Bay Area and the Peninsula Health Care District
announce the kickoff to the multipronged San Mateo Hep B Initiative to fight hepatitis B along
with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) new guidance,
recommending testing all adults ages 18 and older for hepatitis B. This initiative aims to
dramatically improve knowledge, screening, and vaccination rates among San Mateo County
An estimated 81,000 Bay Area residents have chronic hepatitis B, a disease that makes those
infected 100 times more likely to develop liver cancer. Yet two-thirds of those infected are
unaware due to low rates of screening and little to no symptoms for those infected. As a result,
hundreds of Bay Area residents are dying from this preventable disease each year.
California State Treasurer Fiona Ma, who is chronically infected with hepatitis B herself, said,
“I was told that I was a healthy carrier of hepatitis B and that there was nothing to worry about.
But if it wasn’t for SF Hep B Free, and initiatives like this, I might not be here today.” There are
more than 300,000 Californians who also have hep B. Given the deadly effects of this disease,
we can’t be silent about hep B; we need to sound the alarm!”
The year-long, multipronged initiative, the San Mateo County Hep B Initiative, will fight hepatitis
B through a public awareness media campaign, local community and business education, along
with screenings, physician education and partnerships with retail pharmacies.
“We are proud to support this work. This is a winnable fight. Now more than ever, we have all
the tools necessary to beat hepatitis B and the liver cancer it causes,” Dr. Larry Cappel, Chair of
the Peninsula Health Care District Board said. “Early screening and vaccination will eliminate
hepatitis B in our community and beyond. We just need to get the word out.”
With the passage of the universal hep B screening recommendation a unique trifecta was
created. In October 2021, California passed a law (AB 789) to require hep B and hep C tests to
be offered in the primary care setting. In February 2022, the CDC issued hep B vaccination
recommendation for ages 19-59, infants, adolescents (who have not been vaccinated before)
and those 60 and older, who are at risk or desire a hep B vaccine. Just last month, the CDC
issued universal adult hep B screening recommendations.
“The Hep B Trifecta has set the groundwork for California to lead the nation in the fight against
hepatitis B and with collaboration between the community, physicians, and health care systems,
the state can be the first to truly eliminate hep B, said Richard So, Executive Director of SF Hep
B Free. “It is a dream we can actually achieve.”
San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine and Millbrae City Councilmember Anders Fung also
celebrated the launch, commenting on the immense need in the communities they represent.
Historically, both hepatitis B screening and vaccination recommendations depended on a
complex risk-based assessment, burdening physicians and patients alike, and increasing
barriers to both services. Furthermore, despite Many Asian Americans and other minority
populations being at high risk for hepatitis B infection, no law required hepatitis B or hepatitis C
testing. However, the recent updates should dramatically decrease these barriers because
screening and vaccination would likely be offered to almost every adult patient and in many
cases, be required by law. Beating hepatitis B is in reach.
About SF Hep B Free Bay Area
San Francisco Hep B Free – Bay Area is a multicounty campaign to turn the San Francisco Bay
Area into the first hepatitis B free area in the nation. Their mission is to provide free and
low-cost hepatitis B testing, educate the community and physicians on hepatitis B, and promote
routine testing and vaccination for Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) adults at risk. For
more information, go to: www.SFHepBFree.org
About Peninsula Health Care District
Founded in 1947, the Peninsula Health Care District serves the communities of San Bruno,
Millbrae, Burlingame, Hillsborough, San Mateo and Foster City by supporting the unique health
and wellness priorities of our vibrant Peninsula communities, and safeguarding access to health
care services, today and in the future. PHCD fulfills its commitment to the community through
oversight of District assets and infrastructure, planning for future health care needs, and
investing taxpayer dollars in local health-focused organizations and programs. To learn more
about PHCD, visit www.peninsulahealthcaredistrict.or