National African Immigrant Heritage Month (NAIHM)
September marks the beginning of National African Immigrant Heritage Month (NAIHM) – state and federal officials in over thirty states recognize September as NAIHM despite it not being federally declared.
There is growing data related to the disproportionate impact of hepatitis among African immigrants in the U.S. African immigrants living in the United States are disproportionately and increasingly affected by Hep B. There is a high burden of Hep B infection in Africa, with an estimated 50 million individuals living with the virus. Despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation that all immigrants living in the U.S. be screened for Hep B, African immigrants continue to face disproportionate barriers to testing, vaccination and care. Hep C prevalence in sub-Saharan Africa ranges from 4-9% and Hep C is the second leading cause of end-stage liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma-related mortality in the region.
However, very little data is collected about the prevalence and incidence of Hep C among African immigrants living in the US. Finally, African immigrants face countless barriers in accessing the U.S. healthcare system and obtaining screening and treatment for viral hepatitis. Increased efforts must be initiated to improve access to quality care that is culturally appropriate and designed to reduce hepatitis-related morbidity and mortality in this population.