Three demographic groups are at highest risk of infection. The baby boom generation — those born between 1946 and 1964 — are most likely to be infected with chronic hepatitis C virus infection. African-Americans are twice as likely as the general population to contract hepatitis C. One in 10 Asian-Americans has contracted hepatitis B. Again, given that most are unaware of their infection, few even know they have a virus, let alone that it can be treated or even cured.In the coming decades, the complexion of our nation will rapidly diversify — and with it, so too will our health care challenges. It is vital that our entire health care system embrace and prepare for this historic shift. By modernizing our approach here and now to increased prevention, detection and management of hepatitis B and hepatitis C, policymakers will lay the foundation for an infrastructure designed to meet this challenge head on. And that’s something all Members of Congress can rally around. Lorren Sandt is executive director of the Caring Ambassadors Program, based in Portland, Ore., and is chairwoman of the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable, a coalition of more than 150 public, private and voluntary organizations dedicated to reducing the incidence of infection, morbidity and mortality from viral hepatitis.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.