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Alan Franciscus
HCV Advocate

Friday, February 1, 2013

Hawaii Dept. of Health offers free in-language materials for hepatitis B education efforts in partnership with HEP FREE HAWAII

January 23, 2013

Read complete press release HERE

Honolulu, Hawaii -- Hep Free Hawaii -- The Hawai‘i State Department of Health (DOH) is offering free in-language health educational materials to distribute among Chuukese, Marshallese, Samoan, Tongan, and Ilocano communities. Thanks to a grant from Kaiser Permanente Hawai‘i, the materials were developed in collaboration with partner agencies and community groups to increase hepatitis B awareness, prevention, immunization, and treatment among Asians and Pacific Islanders in Hawai‘i.

“Hepatitis B and C are truly silent epidemics because most people don’t know that they have been infected with hepatitis. There may not be any symptoms for many years, and there is still limited awareness about hepatitis,” stated Thaddeus Pham, DOH Adult Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinator. “This is especially true for foreign-born Asian and Pacific Islander communities who may not have access to culturally appropriate, in-language materials about viral hepatitis.”

It is estimated that 1 out of 10 Asians and Pacific Islanders in the U.S. have hepatitis B, compared to 1 out of 1000 in the general U.S. population. Since more than half of the people living in Hawai‘i are of Asian or Pacific Islander descent according to the 2010 U.S. Census, this means the burden of hepatitis in Hawai‘i is very high. According to DOH estimates, 1 to 3 percent of people in Hawai‘i have hepatitis B, and approximately 23,000 are living with hepatitis C. Hepatitis B and C are the most common known causes of liver cancer in Hawai‘i, and Hawai‘i has the highest rate of liver cancer in the country.

In partnership with Hep Free Hawai‘i, the DOH developed culturally sensitive and in-language materials to raise awareness about the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of viral hepatitis and liver disease in Hawai‘i. The creation of these materials was a collaborative effort with community groups representing many Asian and Pacific Islander ethnicities including Chuukese and Marshallese. With strong partnerships with organizations such as the Micronesian Community Network and community feedback, the grant will benefit at least 25,000 people in the first year of distribution.

“Hawai‘i is such a beautiful and diverse place,” said Pham. “With this grant, DOH and Hep Free Hawai‘i can ensure that all of the diverse Asian and Pacific Islander communities in the state can obtain relevant and appropriate materials to increase their awareness of and access to hepatitis education and services.”

To download the in-language materials for free, go to www.hepfreehawaii.org. Hard copies may also be requested (depending on availability) by contacting Thaddeus Pham at thaddeus.pham@doh.hawaii.gov.

About Hep Free Hawai‘i

Hep Free Hawai‘i (HFH) is a grassroots campaign started by hepatitis advocates in Hawai‘i to bring attention to the epidemic of chronic hepatitis B and C and liver disease in our islands and has over 50 partner agencies in its coalition. Through increasing awareness, HFH hopes to encourage everyone in Hawai‘i to learn their hepatitis status, and for those living with hepatitis or other liver disease to access the care they need to live healthy lives. To join the coalition or to learn more, visit HFH at www.hepfreehawaii.org.

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