By Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America Bureau
July 24, 2013
DALY CITY, Calif. – Hepatitis B is a silent killer among Asian and Pacific Islanders. One in ten in this racial group is afflicted with this serious liver infection. Two out of three don’t even know they are infected. Left untreated, one in four will eventually develop liver cancer.
About a million people worldwide die from liver cancer and other complications that stem from Hepatitis B every year.
The virus is passed from person to person through blood, semen or other body fluids.
“Hepatitis B is asymptomatic. You don’t know you have it until it reaches the stage of liver cancer,” said Genevieve Jopanda, executive director of San Francisco Hep B Free Campaign.
The Northeast Medical Services, a non-profit community health center, in conjunction with the San Mateo County and San Francisco Hep B Free Campaigns, recently launched their free weekly Hepatitis B screenings.
SF Hep B has screened about 10,500 people since it was founded in 2007.
“It’s a hidden disease. If you don’t get tested, you’ll never know that you have it. That’s why we really bring a lot of effort in trying to eradicate this from the community,” said Eddie Chan, CEO of North East Medical Services.
Mark Nogales, a field representative of Congresswoman Jackie Speier was one of those who recently got screened for Hepatitis B.
“It’s really up to us to get tested, to learn about what we can do if we are positive of Hepatitis B. There are some medications we can take to help us live a very productive life,” said Nogales.
There is no known cure yet for Hepatitis B. But a vaccine can prevent the disease.
For someone without health insurance, it would cost about $75 to get screened for this disease.
Advocates said President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act should be fully implemented soon, so more people can get screened and treated for this liver disease.
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