Meet the Team: Rita Kuwahara, MD, MIH, Hepatitis B Fellow
Welcome to our blog series, “Meet the AAPCHO Team,” where you’ll have a chance to get to know our staff! Meet Rita Kuwahara, MD, MIH, our Hepatitis B Fellow, as she answers a few questions!
As Rita wraps up her fellowship with us at AAPCHO, we wanted to recognize all of her hard work and contributions to improving the care and support for people living with and affected by hepatitis B. We also want to congratulate Rita on her acceptance to her internal medicine residency training at the Greater Danbury Community Health Center. Congratulations Rita! Thank you for everything you have done to help move the needle in hepatitis B policy and we look forward to your continued work and impact within the community health center community!
What have you been working on during your fellowship year?
I’ve been based in Washington, DC for the past year and engaged in federal advocacy to highlight the need to increase adult hepatitis B vaccination, particularly within the setting of the opioid epidemic, as well as raise awareness of the need to increase hepatitis B testing, vaccination, and linkage to care. I was delighted to work with the offices of Congressman Hank Johnson, Congresswoman Grace Meng, and Senator Mazie Hirono, who introduced a Resolution to Designate April 30 as National Adult Hepatitis B Vaccination Awareness Day (H. Res. 331/S. Res. 177) in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate last month, which was endorsed by over 75 organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Public Health Association, and AAPCHO. It was wonderful that we were also able to hold a Congressional briefing in coordination with the introduction of this Resolution, featuring the role that community health centers, community-based organizations, national health organizations, and the federal government can play in increasing adult hepatitis B vaccination and testing. I’ve also had the privilege of working on increasing federal funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Viral Hepatitis, opposing adverse drug price tiering of medications used to treat chronic hepatitis B, opposing instances of institutional discrimination against those with chronic hepatitis B, advocating to have a section of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6) include a section on addressing the Infectious Disease Consequences of the Opioid Epidemic, which was enacted into law last year, and working to protect the Affordable Care Act and access to healthcare.
What are you most looking forward to?
Watching the Resolution to Designate April 30 as National Adult Hepatitis B Vaccination Awareness Day (H. Res. 331/S. Res. 177) advance in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate and working with provider groups and community health centers across the country to increase hepatitis B testing and vaccination.
What is your home town?
Durham, North Carolina
What is your favorite food?