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Monday, June 30, 2008

AsianWeek: "Pistahan Makes Hep B Known in Filipino Community"

Written by Peter J. Swing

SAN FRANCISCO - The Filipino American community will have a chance to not only celebrate their culture and heritage with dancing, food and live entertainment at the 15th Annual Pistahan Parade and Festival on Aug. 9 and 10 in Yerba Buena Gardens - but they will also be able to receive hepatitis B screenings at the event’s Health Pavilion.

Though this is the second year in a row that the festival has organized a health exhibition area, this is the first time they will provide free hepatitis B screenings, which will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.

“Hepatitis B is not that well known in the Filipino community,” said Al Perez, President of the Filipino American Arts Exposition, which organizes the annual Pistahan; he is also the creative director at AsianWeek. “This is a great opportunity to help educate our community on how to protect themselves from this deadly virus.”

California Pacific Medical Center will manage the testing site. S.F. Hep B Free Campaign and the Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center will also be on hand to help promote awareness for the disease.

“The best way to reach a community is to participate and be involved firsthand in the community,” said Paula Lykins, community relations manager of California Pacific Medical Center. “The Pistahan provides a great opportunity to outreach to the Filipino community about hepatitis B, and we are committed to join efforts with our SF Hep B Free partners to help reach our goal of screening, testing and vaccinating all APIs in San Francisco.”

While CPMC, the API Wellness Foundation and the SF Hep B Free campaign are making their hepatitis B debut at the festival, Pistahan committee members believe that it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

“Because we feel that the issue of hepatitis B is not properly addressed in the Filipino American community, especially to new immigrant arrivals, we are launching a program in October for Filipino Heritage month,” said Rudy Asercion, board member of the Pistahan and executive director of the West Bay Filipino Multiservice Center.

According to Asercion, the program will consist of a series of hepatitis B screening sites around the Bay Area working in tandem with SF Hep B Free Campaign.

For more information about the Pistahan Parade and Festival visit: pistahan.net. For more about the S.F. Hep B Free campaign: sfhepbfree.org.

Original article available at www.asianweek.com
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