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Monday, May 10, 2010

Hep B Free campaign: 'No one deserves to die'

Published by Philippine News - May 8, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO -- For the 15th anniversary of National Hepatitis Awareness Month in May, San Francisco Hep B Free organization launched the "Which One Deserves To Die?" ad campaign to remind the public about the dangers of the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and its link to liver cancer.

The provocative ad campaign features more than 60 people from the Bay Area’s Asian American community in print ads and public service announcements. All of the ads alert the Asian American community that one in 10 Asian Americans is chronically infected with Hepatitis B compared to 1 to 1,000 in the general population.

One of the print ads designed by DAE Advertising features 10 pageant beauties decked out in their fancy earrings and gowns. And written in bold letters at the bottom of the photograph: "Which One Deserves to Die?"

"Right now we are taking a different approach. A lot more serious approach," said Janet Cruz, Miss United Nations/Philippines International 2009 and one of the models in the ad campaign. "The real message is that no one deserves to die," she said.

Hepatitis B is an illness caused by an infection with the HBV. Infection with the virus can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, liver failure, and liver cancer. About 80 percent of liver cancer around the world is caused by HBV infection.

HBV can be transmitted by birth, making contact with infected blood, or by having unprotected sex.HBV is silently transmitted and has a silent progression. Many people with chronic HBV express no symptoms and can feel perfectly healthy. They may even display normal blood test for liver function.

Once the symptoms appear, they often are exhibited at the end stages of disease where treatment options are limited or ineffective.

Hepatitis B can be prevented with a vaccine. "Everyone should get test, screened and vaccinated and be aware of their healthcare situation," said Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, who has been actively supporting the SF Hep B Free organization. "We are really encouraging people to take control of their health, be a hero, get screened, and encourage all your friends and family to do the same."

"We believe with all the awareness and education efforts we can eradicate Hepatitis B, similar to small pox," Ma said. "It’s going to take a lot of effort." Aristotle Garcia, one of the Filipino models for the Tagalog ad campaign, thinks it’s important for Filipinos to get tested and be aware of the disease.

Hepatitis B is the fifth leading cause of death amongst Filipino men.

"It is out there, it does affect us, and definitely get tested so you are not one of those that are infected and that have to suffer from this unfortunate disease," Garcia said in regards to Filipinos in the community who know nothing about Hepatitis B.

SF Hep B Free is a one-of-a-kind collaboration between the city government, private healthcare community organizations, and businesses.

The campaign's goals are to make San Francisco hepatitis B-free by creating public and healthcare provider awareness about the importance of testing and vaccinating Asian and Pacific Islanders for hepatitis B, promoting routine hepatitis B screenings and vaccinations within the primary care medical community and facilitating access to treatment for chronically infected individuals.

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