Learn More about Hepatitis B
"With one out of 10 Asian Americans chronically infected with hepatitis B," Joan Block, executive director of the Hepatitis B Foundation told a crowd of health and outreach professionals at a recent conference, "this is an urgent health priority."
Dedicated to finding a cure and improving the quality of life for those affected with hepatitis B worldwide through research, education and patient advocacy, the nonprofit organization co-sponsored the conference in Philadelphia on November 6 as a way to inform people about the severity of hepatitis B in Asian communities.
Bristol-Myers Squibb, in its mission to enhance and extend life by discovering innovative treatments for unmet medical needs and to raise public awareness of urgent health care needs, helped support the conference by providing unrestricted educational grants
"Even though Asian Americans are an underrepresented and underserved group," Grace Ma, director of Temple University's Center for Asian Health, told conference goers, "we have an opportunity to seriously address this great health disparity."
As a next-generation BioPharma leader, Bristol-Myers Squibb is reaching out to Asian Americans with the company's first-ever, non-English television campaign in the United States, starting with Mandarin and extending to other Asian languages next year.
The campaign includes two 60-second television segments, brochures, and access to helpful websites and information on www.bms.com.
Why is hepatitis B a particular problem for Asians?
Samuel So, M.D., founder of the Asian Liver Center at Stanford University, studies issues involving the management and treatment of hepatitis B. As leader of the Jade Ribbon Campaign, he works to raise awareness among Asian Americans about hepatitis B. This year, he completed work on a podcast released and presented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Most infected Asians acquired the disease "when they were children and were living in a part of the world where hepatitis B is prevalent," according to the podcast. "Because hepatitis B can be a silent disease that doesn't cause symptoms for years, people who have it often don't even know they're infected. Sometimes even the physicians who care for them don't realize how serious it can be."
"Week after week," So says, "I see patients coming to see me in my liver cancer clinic. One case (was) a young internist, practicing in San Francisco who was not aware that, if you have chronic hepatitis B, you need to be screened regularly for liver cancer. Unfortunately, he found out too late when he was diagnosed with advanced liver cancer at the age of 31. He became a spokesperson for the Jade Ribbon Campaign before he died, because he knew that most of the doctors he worked with were not aware of the need for screening Asian American patients for hepatitis B."
"If you're Asian American, ask your health care provider about whether you, your family members, or your sexual partners need to be tested or vaccinated," So says. "If you have hepatitis B, you should be evaluated regularly to see if liver disease is progressing and to determine whether you would benefit from available therapies. If you're not infected, but are at risk, you should be vaccinated against hepatitis B."
Asian Liver Center
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Hepatitis B Foundation