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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

National Hep B Community Gathers in San Francisco To Honor Nobel Laureate Dr. Baruch Blumberg and SF Hep B Free

By Grace Niwa - AsianWeek.com

Left to right:
Meredith Bergin Bailey, Asian Liver Center, Dr. Stuart Fong, Chinese Hospital, Dr. Baruch Blumberg, Dr. Joseph Woo, Chinese Hospital, Ted Fang, AsianWeek Foundation & SF Hep B Free, Janet Zola, SF Department of Public Health & SF Hep B Free, John Fisher, Brown and Toland Physicians Group.

San Francisco – Nobel Laureate Dr. Baruch Blumberg, discoverer of the Hepatitis B virus and developer of its vaccine was honored at San Francisco’s Hepatitis B Free Coast to Coast Awards Gala on September 16 at The Regency Center. Co-host Chinese Hospital presented its 37th Annual Award to Dr. Blumberg for his contribution to improving the health of Asians. Dr. Blumberg was also presented with the 3rd Annual Hep B Free Super Hero Award which includes a blue cape with the “B Superhero” emblem emblazoned on the back. The night’s event was presented by SF Hep B Free and Chinese Hospital, and produced by the AsianWeek Foundation.

“The means are available to prevent and treat hepatitis B,” said Blumberg. “These good outcomes can only be fully achieved if the public, and particularly populations with a high rate of infection, including those of Asian origin, are educated about the virus and take part in the program of vaccination, detection, and treatment. The Chinese Hospital, San Francisco Hep B Free Campaign, Hepatitis B Foundation in Philadelphia and other Hep B Free initiatives across the nation are making the public aware of the problem and leading the efforts to solve it.”

Emceed by Hepatitis B spokespersons, California State Assemblywoman Fiona Ma and ABC7 Anchor/Reporter Alan Wang, over 600 people attended. Special guests included Joan Block, Executive Director, Hepatitis B Foundation, Dr. Moon Chen, UC Davis, Asian American Network for Cancer Awareness, Research and Training, Jeff Cabellero, Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations, Dr. Mitch Katz, Chief Public Health Officer for San Francisco, Dr. Ed Chow, Health Commissioner, Mark Leno, State Senator, David Chiu, President, SF Board of Supervisors, Carmen Chu, Supervisor Bevan Dufty, Supervisor and James Fang, President, BART Board.

Hep B Free Philadelphia is a public awareness and education campaign – based on the enormously successful San Francisco Hep B Free campaign,” said Joan Block, Executive Director & Co-Founder, Hepatitis B Foundation. “We felt the time was right in creating this initiative. We want to feel a part of a larger movement for change because together, we can do more to help people and save lives.”

Deaths from liver cancer are rising faster than any other cancer in America. San Francisco’s Hep B Free public health project is leading the country as a healthcare reform model. A unique collaboration of over 50 private and public organizations, its goal is to turn San Francisco into the first city in America to be free of hepatitis B transmission, which is responsible for up to 80% of all liver cancer. Their innovative campaign also addresses the disease as the greatest health disparity for Asian Pacific Americans in the nation, and in the world. Based on the enormously successful SF Hep B Free campaign, other counties and cities are starting to replicate its model. They include Los Angeles, Orange County, Santa Clara, Alameda, Long Beach, San Mateo, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC.

SF Hep B Free is the country’s first initiative to utilize healthcare reform principles, including electronic medical records and quality assurance measures, for addressing a leading health disparity and a deadly chronic disease. The program has received national coverage in the New York Times, PBS News Hour, NPR’s Morning Edition, San Francisco Chronicle and others.

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