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Monday, July 27, 2009

Benefit for SF Hep B Free on August 21, 2009


Contact: Steve Liu
Cell Phone: 206.972.3560
Email: steven@vivesf.com


A night on the town filled with music, dinner & friends a benefit for SF Hep B Free.

Diverging from the basic black tie formal, vive brings you an event for the new generation. With fresh music, a friendly atmosphere and an occasion to dress up, An Unexpected Encounter will be a chance to contribute to an important organization, SF Hep B Free. Bring a date, or come single to mingle: drinks, mixer, dinner, music and fun- perhaps it will be a venue for an unexpected encounter.

Chinese-Taiwanese-American singer songwriter, Alice Tong and local singer songwriter, Odessa Chen will be performing at the event after a three-course dinner. This event will be on Friday, August 21st, 2009, 6:00pm-9:00pm, at Jillian’s in the Metreon, 101 4th St. San Francisco. Email steven@vivesf.com for sponsorship opportunities. Tickets can be purchased at www.vivesf.com.

San Francisco Hep B Free is a citywide campaign to turn San Francisco into the first hepatitis B free city in the nation. This unprecedented campaign will provide free and low-cost hepatitis B testing and vaccinations to Asian and Pacific Islander (API) adults at locations throughout San Francisco.

For more information and to donate directly visit: http://sfhepbfree.org/donate/

Odessa Chen's singular musical vision is not easily categorized. She approaches songs of love, longing, and displacement with accomplished lyrics, and unusual song structures. Aspects of folk, classical, and indie rock converge in music that requires quiet attention. Her music calls for more than a cursory listen; with closer attention new layers are revealed. For more about Odessa visit her website at www.odessachen.com.

Alice Tong is a singer, songwriter, artist, activist, social worker, 2nd generation Chinese-Taiwanese-American. Alice has a BA in Ethnomusicology and a Masters in Social Work. Her musical style ranges from such categories as folk rock, indie rock, soul, and jazz. Her music has been in independent films, including “American Fusion” which won the Audience Award at the Hawaii International Film Festival. Alice’s album “Small” can be bought on iTunes, Amazon, or www.blacklava.net. She now lives in San Francisco where she gets obsessed with her dogs and makes and performs more music. For more about Alice, check out www.myspace.com/alicetongmusic.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

NY Times Article: "Bridging the Culture Gap"

Bridging the Culture Gap By PAULINE W. CHEN, M.D.
July 16, 2009

One afternoon not long after I finished my training, two sisters, both well-respected professionals in their late 40s, came to the hospital clinic. Both sisters had hepatitis B, and the older sister, like a fair number of chronic hepatitis B patients, had developed liver cancer. She and her sister were hoping that we might be able to remove the tumor.

I remember watching the sisters’ faces turn grim as the younger of the two drew a family tree on the flimsy paper covering the examining table. Under each branch, she wrote out the names of siblings and parents, and I shuddered over the number of “L.C.’s,” her abbreviation for “liver cancer,” this sister scrawled next to a name.

Their parents had immigrated to the United States from China a half-century earlier. In the midst of raising six children, their mother developed and then died from inoperable liver cancer. A little over two decades later, two of their siblings succumbed to the same lethal disease — one brother a few months prior to the sisters’ visit to my clinic, and another brother a few months later.

After the first brother had died, the family members assumed that his untimely death was due to bad luck or perhaps a “cancer gene.” But soon after the second brother was diagnosed, the remaining siblings sifted through their family’s medical records. They discovered that both brothers had had hepatitis B, a viral infection that predisposes individuals to cirrhosis, liver failure and cancer; and they realized that their mother’s symptoms in the years prior to her death were consistent with progressive liver failure from cirrhosis.

They learned that while the incidence of hepatitis B is higher among Asians than among other racial groups in the United States, Chinese are at the highest risk, particularly those who hail from Fujian, the province from which the sisters’ parents had immigrated. Infections could spread insidiously through “vertical transmission,” where infected mothers would unknowingly pass the virus to their newborns during birth. The children then go on to develop a chronic active infection and are predisposed to developing early cirrhosis and liver cancer. If they were female, they run the risk of passing the virus on to a whole new generation of family members.

Over the course of the next few months, the surviving siblings learned that every one of them had been infected with hepatitis B, probably from their mother at birth. While each had developed varying degrees of cirrhosis, they realized that without the necessary close surveillance by a liver specialist, they could die from liver cancer as their brothers and mother had. The sisters spearheaded the effort to find liver specialists who would follow all of them, and it was during this search that they discovered the older sister’s tumor and my clinic.

It would turn out that the older sister’s cancer was small enough to remove surgically. And a year after her operation, I ran into one of the liver specialists I had referred the family to for regular follow-up. The siblings he cared for, I learned, were faring well. “But what a pity,” my colleague said shaking his head. “If only one of the clinicians they had seen earlier had been a little more aware of some of the health concerns of Asian-Americans.”

Over the last two decades, that awareness has been increasing. While researchers have begun to understand the profound extent to which a patient’s cultural background can influence health care, more and more medical schools and training programs have integrated what is termed “cultural competency” into their curricula. “Culture works at all levels,” said Dr. Arthur Kleinman, professor of medical anthropology and psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “It affects health disparities, communication and interactions in the doctor-patient relationship, the illness experience and health care outcomes.”

Clinicians who are unaware of cultural influences may not only miss important medical implications for a patient but can also inadvertently exacerbate an often already tenuous therapeutic relationship. “From the statistics in the literature,” said Marjorie Kagawa-Singer, a nurse and professor at the School of Public Health of the University of California, Los Angeles, “adherence to a medication or a treatment regimen is usually less than 50 percent. But that figure is further exacerbated when there are cultural variations.”

A physician’s awareness of cultural context can also dramatically affect patients’ perceptions of the quality of care they receive. “So much research has shown that communication is important to the health care experience,” said Nadia Islam, deputy director of New York University’s Center for the Study of Asian American Health. “Communication is not just about language or interpreters; it is also being cognizant of what patients bring with them.” Ms. Islam is co-editor of “Asian American Communities and Health: Context, Research, Policy and Action” (Jossey-Bass, 2009), a recently published book that not only focuses on a growing and hugely diverse cultural group in the United States but also underscores the importance of context in any relationship between a clinician and patient. According to Dr. Islam, when professional caregivers fail to take into account an individual’s context, “patients may hear what the doctor is saying but may not take it to heart in terms of their own health practices.”

Such misunderstandings can even affect a patient’s sense of hope. Jeffrey Caballero, a contributor to the book as well as executive director of the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations, added, “There’s a rich cultural gap that sometimes needs to be crossed for patients to be able to feel that a provider understands them and that they can have hope.”

For physicians who are struggling with time constraints in their practices, however, juggling all of these considerations successfully during a patient visit can be challenging. “It’s hard to be open and aware of all the issues given the increasing demands on doctors to see more patients in less time,” said Dr. Lydia Gonzalez, a pediatrician who has taught medical school courses in cultural awareness and who practices at the Morris Heights Health Center in the Bronx. “Some clinicians do it really well, others poorly. But I think the important thing is that one has to want to develop this attitude.”

Doing so does not require the acquisition of lots of information — a working knowledge, for example, of how individuals from different cultures may interpret an illness — but rather an increased awareness of the cultural context of patients as well as doctors. “The term ‘cultural competence’ can be limiting,” Dr. Kleinman noted. “It tends to suggest that culture is not fluid and is only important for patients. The danger of the term is that it can then stop conversations altogether rather than opening them.”

“There are cultural issues on the patient’s side and the doctor’s side,” Dr. Kleinman continued, “and both sides should be aware of that and be able to reflect on it in a self-critical way. Physicians bring their own cultural orientations to the relationship, even if they are from the ‘mainstream.’ ”

In addition to their own cultural contexts, doctors also carry their professional one, the values and priorities acquired during training. This “culture of biomedicine” can result in misunderstandings as profound as those that come about as a result of a patient’s particular background.

For instance, because the culture of the medical profession is oriented to the detection and treatment of disease and not to the experience of illness, patients sometimes believe that their physician places little value on how they feel. “It’s not because doctors are innately insensitive,” Dr. Kleinman said. “In their training, part of a physician’s acculturation is learning to view the disease process as fundamentally true and the experience of being ill as a related but less important epiphenomenon. There’s this belief that the experience of being ill will just disappear if we can treat the disease.”

And while culture can often play an important role in treating a patient, there are also situations where it is superfluous. “Culture doesn’t always matter for patients,” Dr. Gonzalez observed. “I think clinicians need to be aware that diseases or issues may be more prevalent in a certain ethnic group, but they should not generalize accordingly.”

The key, Dr. Kleinman advises, is determining “whether culture is really at stake and if so, how it is at stake.” Health care providers need to “show an interest, affirm the person as an individual.” The ability to do so should not be part of a specialized skill set; instead they should be a routine part of how clinicians think about caregiving.

“What you don’t want,” Dr. Kleinman said, “is doctors carrying around plastic cards listing the five things you need to think about when you see, for example, an Asian-American patient. What you want is the ability to inquire, to ask questions.”

Join the discussion on the Well blog, “How Cultural Background Impacts Health.”

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

AsianWeek: "Cathay Post Mourns Loss of Commander Bok Pon"

American Legion Post #384, known as Cathay Post, lost their Hero Commander Bok Pon on Tuesday, July 21, 2009. Commander Pon learned that he was another Chinese American victim of Hepatitis B three years ago, and his physician gave him the dire warning that he had about 6 months to live.

Even Superman would be shaken if he had learned that he had overexposure to kryptonite, in this case Bok Pon was told his liver was badly damaged by the Hepatitis B virus and that the malady was fatal. The next day, after a less than great night’s sleep, Bok Pon woke up early and did his normal daily routine - consisting of a 100 pushups and jogging several miles. He was feeling good and he was determined to fight and not let any virus take him down.

Three years later, the indefatigable 82nd Air Borne paratrooper learned after his most recent MRI scan that his liver was almost gone and his time remaining was now very limited – just a few weeks left. Even with that alarming warning, he flew to hot and sweltering Washington, DC with a few missions left to complete.

With his network, he obtained an appointment to meet with Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. After explaining his work with Cathay Post, Shinseki a retired 4 star US Army general thanked Commander Pon for all his work on behalf of veterans and promised to visit Bok Pon and Cathay Post soon. The following week, after his speaking engagement at the local Marines Memorial Center, Shinseki fulfilled his promise and met with Pon and most of the veteran members of Cathay Post in the San Francisco Headquarters. The Secretary gave his best wishes to Bok Pon for a long life and promised to visit Cathay Post whenever he was in the Bay Area.

Cathay Post is one of the oldest American Legion Posts in the Country having been inducted into the American Legion in 1932. It is, in fact, the oldest Asian American veteran’s posts in America. At the end of the last Century, Cathay Post suffered the same malady facing 90% of American Legion posts nationwide – senioritis. With large numbers of WW II and Korean War veterans currently dying at a rate of roughly 1000 veterans a day, this Post was comatose as many of its members were no longer ambulatory and the veterans of the Vietnam era and later were not interested in the American Legion for many reasons. Many veterans, quite frankly, wanted to forget their miserable times fighting the VC and mosquitoes, so the ranks of the young in American Legion posts is very limited.

In 2002 Bok Pon personally decided to revive Cathay Post and with enormous determination and tireless effort, recruited new members, raised cash to pay for the expenses of managing an organization, and today, this Cathay Post is a vibrant organization and a model for emulation throughout the American Legion.

Commander Pon made Cathay Post a place to hang out, or plan for community events, or support wounded and homebound veterans, and even planned for a Museum dedicated to the Chinese American veterans who have fought for America since the Civil War. He also dreamed of providing affordable housing for returning veterans as well as senior veterans.

Some of his other dreams have already come true, the Post now has a trust fund to pay full tuition to returning veterans attending San Francisco City College and he also has accumulated a healthy fund to fight the Hepatitis B virus.

Bok Pon also has another special dream, the development of an Auxiliary for Cathay Post for the many citizens who supported the organization but who were not qualified as veterans. Today, the Cathay Post Auxiliary numbers almost a hundred members and they contribute the energy to make every Cathay Post very successful.

Commander Pon was a political conservative, but his liberal concern for the underprivileged is well documented. He served on the Board of Chinese for Affirmative Action and also the Chinese Newcomer’s Association. He helped obtained federal funds for the homeless in San Francisco.

At the same time he and Cathay Post fought for the JROTC program directed by Cathay Post leader Nelson Lum and that battle was won after years of confrontation with a few members of the Board of Education. He did not forget the San Francisco police or fire fighters either and raised funds to give out savings bonds to the top police and fire fighters selected by their own organizational leaders.

Cathay Post already feels the great loss of its preeminent leader; the rest of our community has also lost a great citizen who fought for their welfare and well being.

God Bless Commander Bok Pon. We and our community thank you for all you have done for us and we will always remember you.

-Ronald Lee, Commander, Cathay Post and all the members of Cathay Post and the Cathay Post Auxiliary

Article on AsianWeek.com

Friday, July 17, 2009

Miss Asian America Pageant Joins the Jade Ribbon Campaign to Fight Hepatitis B and Liver Cancer

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Bay Area Contestants of the longest running Miss Asian pageant in the United States will make their first appearance at Chef Khai Duong's Ana Mandara Restaurant (891 Beach St @ Polk) on Saturday, July 18 at 2pm.

The 24th Miss Asian America Pageant, a Celebration of Beauty, Culture and Talent will be held on Saturday, August 8 at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre in San Francisco. Curtain time is 6:45pm.

The pageant will continue to bring awareness about Hepatitis B and liver cancer which affects as many as 1 out of 10 Asian and Pacific Islander Americans (API). One out of every four Hepatitis B carrier will eventually die of liver cancer of liver failure. Most do not know that they are infected.

Twenty-three contestants from all over the United States will be competing for the title of Miss Asian America 2009-2010. The categories of competition are Ethnic Costume/Self Introductions, Swimsuit, Evening Gown, Talent and Speech Presentation.

The pageant is made possible by the generous support of our sponsors, Van
Vic Express, Yes Style.com, Blue Moon, Jack Lee Fong Insurance Agency, Kwong Sang Lung Co., Michael Toshio Cuisine, World Channel, Sugar Bowl Bakery, Monster Cable, La Princesse Salon and Spa, QC Designs, Pier 39, Shangri-La Lotus Salon, American Legion Cathay Post 384, Wax Museum Fisherman's Wharf, Cache Creek Casino, Chinatown Merchants Association and Bich Lien Beauty Care.


About the Miss Asian America Pageant

Founded by Rose Chung, the Miss Asian America Pageant has been the premier event in Asian American community for the past two decades and the longest running Asian American pageant in the United States. From our humble beginnings in 1985 with the Asian American Arts Festival, our event has expanded to an internationally recognized event with regional competitions nationwide.

Since its inception, the Miss Asian America Pageant has been more than a platform for the growth and inspiration of young Asian America women, it has also been about building a strong community for Asian America.

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