This news article was first published on AsianWeek.com.
The month of May was designated in 1990 as the "Asian Pacific American Heritage Month," commemorating the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.
But why is May also designated "Hepatitis B Awareness Month", and why should it matter to the Asian Pacific Islanders (APIs) of San Francisco?
• San Francisco has the highest rate of liver cancer in the nation.
• APIs make up 35% of the city's population.
• 1 in 10 APIs are chronically infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV).
• HBV infects the liver and causes liver cancer and ultimately premature death.
• HBV is a vaccine-preventable virus.
• Most people don't even know they are infected.
In an effort to raise awareness about hepatitis B, numerous events and activities were organized throughout the month of May by the San Francisco Hep B Free Campaign and its many community and health care partners and volunteers.
May 2 – LIVERight at Golden Gate Park
LIVERight is a 5K run/walk hosted by the Asian Liver Center at Stanford University and Answer to Cancer with the goal of raising awareness about hepatitis B and liver cancer. This year, LIVERight was held on Saturday, May 2 in Lindley Meadow of Golden Gate National Park, with more than 400 runners registered.
California State Majority Whip Fiona Ma and San Francisco Supervisor Carmen Chu were both on hand to kick off the race.
May 8 – Press Conference at City Hall
A press conference was held on Friday, May 8 at San Francisco City Hall to announce a new study by the Asian Liver Center detailing the significant lack of hepatitis B knowledge among Bay Area prenatal care doctors.
More than a dozen publicly-elected officials from multiple agencies came out to express their support of the citywide campaign to eradicate hepatitis B from the API community, including Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting, Supervisors David Chiu, Sophie Maxwell, and Carmen Chu, Bart Board Member James Fang, Commissioner Norman Yee from the Board of Education, City College Board Members Milton Marks and Steve Ngo, City Administrator Ed Lee, and others.
Numerous partners and supporters from the San Francisco Hep B Free Campaign representing a dynamic cross section of business, community and health care groups were in attendance, and several speakers paid special tribute to Ted Fang and to the AsianWeek Foundation for its role in making this initiative both a social movement in San Francisco and a model for the nation.
May 12 – Partnership: San Francisco Giants
In partnership with the AsianWeek Foundation and the San Francisco Giants, members of the San Francisco Hep B Free Campaign were present at the games during Chinese Heritage Night (May 12), Korean Heritage Night (May 14), and Japanese Heritage Night (May 15) to educate Giants fans about the importance of getting tested and vaccinated for hepatitis B.
Assemblywoman Fiona Ma and Giants first baseman Travis Ishikawa carried this important message in a public service announcement that was played during the May 12 homeplate ceremony.
Ishikawa was featured on baseball cards containing facts about hepatitis B, and information about San Francisco Hep B Free was displayed on the scoreboard and on the clubhouse televisions throughout the game.
May 16 – Free Screenings at 5th Annual Asian Heritage Street Celebration
Organized by the AsianWeek Foundation, the fifth annual Asian Heritage Street Celebration was held on Saturday, May 16 at the Civic Center. An estimated 100,000 attendees came out to enjoy the day's events, making it the largest Pan Asian street celebration in the nation.
Approximately 160 people took advantage of the free hepatitis B screenings presented by California Pacific Medical Center and the San Francisco Hep B Free Campaign.
Assemblywoman Fiona Ma and ABC7 anchor Alan Wang spoke to the audience about the importance of getting screened for hepatitis B and seeking appropriate medical care if diagnosed with HBV. Like so many APIs with chronic hepatitis B, both Ma and Wang themselves were infected at birth.
May 16 – Personal Story: Alan Wang of ABC7
Alan Wang of ABC7 went public last year about his own personal battle with hepatitis B after learning that Assemblywoman Ma was also chronically infected. Wang's grandfather died of liver cancer, two of his uncles died of liver cancer, and his mother too has HBV. Undetected for so many generations in his family, Wang and all of his siblings were also infected at birth.
Wang talked about his participation at the Asian Heritage Street Celebration during his evening broadcast to help raise awareness of this serious disease.
May 28 – ORIENTED Happy Hour with SFHepBFree.org
In recognition of Hepatitis B Awareness Month, the San Francisco chapter of ORIENTED.COM will be hosting its May Happy Hour with the San Francisco Hep B Free Campaign on Thursday, May 28 at the Lava Lounge on 527 Bryant Street.
This is a great opportunity to learn more about what you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones, while networking with international professionals interested in Asian business and partnerships. So come out and join the fun!
Other programs initiated in May by the San Francisco Hep B Free Campaign included the distribution of 43,000 backpack flyers via the San Francisco Unified School District to educate the parents of school children about hepatitis B. Free screenings were conducted in multiple clinics throughout the city, and 30,000 custom-printed grocery bags with information about HBV were donated for distribution to local businesses by the CEO of Hayward-based Tri Star Plastic whose father was diagnosed with chronic hepatitis B and underwent a successful live transplant.
To learn how you too can get involved, visit the San Francisco Hep B Free Campaign website at http://sfhepbfree.org for more information.
About the San Francisco Hep B Free Campaign
The San Francisco Hep B Free Campaign is a 'first-in-the-nation' effort calling on the collaboration of a wide spectrum of organizations to educate the public about the health risks of the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and to promote routine HBV screenings and vaccinations for the city’s Asian and Pacific Islander (API) population. The Campaign is driven by the AsianWeek Foundation, San Francisco Department of Public Health and Asian Liver Center at Stanford University along with more than 150 community and health care groups, including the San Francisco Mayor’s Office. Assemblywoman Fiona Ma serves as Honorary Chairperson.