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Fil-Ams at high risk of hepatitis-B; free testing in SF Bay Area

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BLOOD-DRAWING. Mark Nagales (right), Field Representative from the Office of Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco-San Mateo), who wants to set an good example to the Fil-Am community, volunteers for a free hepatitis B screening being conducted by Samson Ku (left), Lab Assistant of the North East Medical Center clinic in Eastmoor St., Daly City. PHOTO BY ROSE PAQUETTE

DALY CITY, California—Among Asians, Filipinos are the third-most chronically infected with the deadly Hepatitis B disease, next only to Chinese (first) and Vietnamese (second), reported Genevieve V. Jopanda, executive director of the San Francisco Hep B Free Campaign.

At the launching of the Free Hep B test clinic at the North East Medical Services (NEMS) in Daly City on Thursday, Jopanda explained that as many as 1 in 10 Asian and Pacific Islanders are infected with Hepatitis B worldwide.

“Of these, two out of three don’t know they are infected, and one in four will develop liver cancer or liver disease if untreated,” Jopanda said, noting that nearly 80 percent of all liver cancers is directly associated with chronic hepatitis B.

The campaign started in San Francisco in coordination with the city’s Public Health Clinic, Asian Week Foundation and the City of San Jose.

Daly City Mayor Raymond A. Buenaventura encouraged the Filipino-American community to participate in the free hepatitis B testing. “Get tested and be a hero to yourself and family members by getting tested.”

Silent killer

“Hepatitis B is a silent killer like diabetes,” Buenaventura said. “I’ve seen the devastation from this disease that has caused my family. We have to be vigilant and it is good that we have medical professionals for this free screening.”

Stuart Fong, chair of the San Francisco Hep B Free Governance Council, said Free Hep B Campaign is all about “bringing the community together,” with independent clinics set upfor the public to get free screening.

Fong explained that with Asians making up 37 percent of San Francisco’s residents, “or at least, 20 percent of the Bay area population,” getting tested or properly screened practically “involves everybody.”

The free hep B screening has been given by the nonprofit NEMS for four years now, said its president and chief executive officer Eddie Chan.

“We could provide treatment to those infected, through with Medicare or the state program for underserved communities,” Chan said. “We’re expanding the program to Daly City and we follow where the community is.”

Cancer and cirrhosis

Spearheading the Daly City Free Hep B screening drive is Dr. Kenneth B. Tai, M.D., NEMS Medical Director.

BLOOD-DRAWING. Mark Nagales (right), Field Representative from the Office of Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco-San Mateo), who wants to set an good example to the Fil-Am community, volunteers for a free hepatitis B screening being conducted by Samson Ku (left), Lab Assistant of the North East Medical Center clinic in Eastmoor St., Daly City. PHOTO BY ROSE PAQUETTE

“I’ve been practicing for eight years, and one patient came to my office for abdominal pain and swelling,” Tai recalled. “This patient was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver…and later died. “

Hepatitis B infection is a highly prevalent lethal disease that results in liver failure or liver cancer when left unattended, Tai told INQUIRER.net. Tai said that getting tested for hepatitis B should be a priority. “I have a lot of patients detected positive with the disease but were now cured with our help.”

At least, 10,500 hepatitis tests were performed in the last seven years, Tai said, and close to 7,000 vaccines were used. The “positive” rate has decreased by seven percent from the national average of 10 percent or 1 in 10 Asians.

Tai said the screening procedure is as simple as getting the free test, “and if it turns out positive, you should see a doctor for further tests on an annual basis including treatment.”

The NEMS clinic in Daly City is holding a free hepatitis B screening every Thursday between 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. No appointment is necessary.

Low income patients can get free testing plus vaccination on a discounted rate depending on income. Both the San Mateo and San Francisco counties give support for the screenings. NEMS is trying to solicit more support from various cities.

Asymptomatic

Across the globe, approximately one million people die from liver cancer each year as a direct result of hepatitis B. Unlike other diseases, the hepatitis B virus quietly and continuously attacks the liver over many years often without creating noticeable symptoms.

The majority of those chronically infected contract the disease unknowingly at birth from their mothers. For chronic carriers, there is a significant increased risk of developing serious liver complications as early as one’s mid-twenties.

Chronic carriers might feel and test perfectly healthy and still develop deadly liver cancer. Simple but specific tests must be used to detect the virus. Unfortunately, these tests are not normally given during checkups and otherwise healthy individuals become victims.

An affordable vaccine exists that protects an individual for life.


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  • kanoy

    May 22, 2009 – BEIJING: China has decided to distribute free contraceptives to its vast migrant population living in major cities far from their rural homes

    IF ONLY THEY USED THEM

    5-03-2008 VIETNAM
    A project to hand out free
    and cut-price condoms in cheap boarding houses in Long Bien District to curb HIV
    infection is being hailed a success by organisers.

    THEY ONLY WORK WHEN USED

    To prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, Ho Chi Minh City authorities will provide free condoms in all hotel rooms in the city.

    THE FIGHT GOES ON

    • blue_lights

      They didn’t give me any free condoms in my HCMC (Sai Gon) hotel when I was there last April. Now I feel ripped off, considering I was buying / using about 6 of them every day!

  • delpillar

    There are about 5 to 7 million living in the Philippines with Hepa-B/C and most of them don’t know thay have it.

    But the problem with the Philippines is apathy and ignorance.

    Once you are diagnosed with hepa, the society, the company will not hire you anymore. Most company expel workers once they discovered that you are hepa B carrier as if all workers in the Philippine company will make sex with their coworkers. You cannot even go abroad for work even if the destination country is not middle-east which require hepa-b/c screaning.

    In the USA and other advanced countries, once you discovered wit hepa-B/C or you voluntary tell them, the company even has an insurance plan on how to get proper treatment.

    • kanoy

      U.S. entry ban was lifted as of Jan 4, 2010 :

      ”As a result of this final rule, aliens will no longer be
      inadmissible into the United States based solely on the ground they are
      infected with HIV, and they will not be required to undergo HIV testing
      as part of the required medical examination for U.S. immigration.”

      HIV travel and immigration (faq) >Q>I’mHIV+, and I have been waiting for years to file for lawful permanent residence. Does this announcement mean I can now apply for a green card?

      >A> HIV is no longer a bar to applying for permanent residence. That being
      said, whether you are HIV‑positive or not, you still must qualify for a
      green card through family sponsorship, an employer sponsor, the Diversity Visa Lottery, asylum, or some other means to apply.

  • boybakal

    Hepatitis B among filams, include TB too….our contribution to america.

    • kanoy

      NOT FILAMS BUT OFW—THE LARGEST % OF FILAMS WHERE BORN IN THE USA WHERE TB IS EXTREMELY SMALL IN # BUT EXTREMELY HIGH IN SURVIVAL RATE

      N+S AMERICA HAD 1/4 MIL CASES COMBINED ONLY 20T DIED

      SEA HAD 3.5 MIL COMBINED 1/2 MIL DIED

      SO TB OR HIV-AIDS CAN GET MORE EFFECTIVE CARE IN USA–IF—THEY CAN AFFORD IT

  • Hey_Dudes

    Peninsula Hospital in Milbrae had a news clipping on Burlingame daily of an increasing “Tubercoulosis” seriosly on the rise in the bay area. It specified ‘Filipinos’ being source of the disease thought to have been eliminated in USA but seemed to have made a comeback. Thanks to us.

    • kanoy

      TB was never eliminated in the USA it was brought under control—-still is—but a majority of the cases are latent–non contagious- just like bone TB— the numbers do not separate types



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