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CALIFORNIA: “In Ads, Plea for Asians to Get Tested for Hepatitis”

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New York Times     (05.03.10):: Jesse McKinley

A new TV and print advertising campaign promoting hepatitis B vaccination debuts in San Francisco this week. The goal of the San Francisco Hep B Free-sponsored effort is to spur the city’s Asian-American population into action against the disease. The ads encourage residents to get a “simple blood test” because “hepatitis B can be treated, even prevented.”

City health officials report as many as one in 10 residents of Asian descent are infected with hepatitis B – one reason behind the city’s liver cancer rate, which is the nation’s highest. By comparison, the hepatitis B rate in the general population is roughly 1 in 1,000.

Central to the problem is the stigma attached to hepatitis B, which is endemic in most regions of Asia, say leaders of San Francisco’s Chinese-American community, the largest Asian ethnicity there.

According to Hep B Free committee member Ted Fang, the infection rate among Asian-Americans is particularly vexing considering a vaccine to prevent hepatitis B has been available for nearly 30 years. “We have the medical tools, so long as doctors will test their patients and monitor them,” he said.

A previous, less blunt campaign by the group did not go far enough, said Vicky M. Wong, president and chief executive of DAE, the San Francisco firm that worked with Hep B Free on the new campaign. “Saying ‘Life is beautiful; get tested,’ doesn’t work,” she said. The new ads show a range of Asian community members and ask the stark question, “Which one deserves to die?”

Though the ads are being published in languages including Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese, a major target audience is English-speaking doctors outside the Asian community. These physicians may not be aware of the virus’ disproportionate impact on Asian-Americans, organizers say.

Written by pkids

May 6, 2010 at 10:48 pm

Posted in Hepatitis

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