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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FREE HUG TO HEP B PATIENTS" ACTIVITY GETS WARM RESPONSE IN CHINA

Zhengzhou, China (January 5, 2009) – The Heptatis B virus cannot be transmitted through hug or casual contact. I am an Hep B patient, would you like to have a free hug?" At 2:00 PM of January 4th, 2009, a young lady held a banner in the street of Zhengzhou City. The young lady was named Zhang Wen, a volunteer of Hep B patient group . Zhang Wen said that the purpose of this activity was to make the medical knowledge about Hepatitis B known in the citizen, so that the stigma and discrimination against Hep B patient should be decreased. It is reported that this action is the first in China.

Zhang Wen's action got the support from a Zhejiang boy, Xiao Lei and a Beijing girl, Xiao Wu, who are both volunteers of Hep B patient groups. They decided to do it in Zhengzhou City after they had learned of Zhang Wen's idea. This activity lasted from 2:00 PM to about 4:00 PM. The invitation to free hug was made to 101 citizens, 82 accepted and 19 refused. Furthermore, a lot of citizens took the brochures about HBV handed out by Zhang, Lei, and Wu.

The activity has received extensive attention from the Media. The largest local television, Henan TV, reported the activity all the way and interviewed a medical expert in the show. The expert instructed the medical knowledge on HBV in the interview and the anchorman called on people to treat Hep B patients fairly, instead of discriminating them. Besides, almost all the newspapers reported the activity.

According to Dr. Grace Ma, Founder and Director of Temple University’s Center for Asian Health, “Hepatitis B is a disease that disproportionately affects Asian and Pacific Islanders, the fastest growing ethnic population in the United States. Even though Asian Americans are an underrepresented and underserved group, we have an opportunity to seriously address this great health disparity.”

Experts shared their knowledge about the disease burden of hepatitis B at the global and local level; the medical facts about hepatitis B and its fatal link to liver cancer; public health research findings about the knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and practices of Asian Americans towards hepatitis B; current national policies that provide opportunities for positive community action; and local resources and services available to help meet the hepatitis B needs of the Asian communities. Presenting experts were: Dr. Esther Chernak and Ms. Tamara Brickham of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health; Dr. Hie-Won Hann of Thomas Jefferson University; Dr. Grace Ma of the Center for Asian Health at Temple University; and Dr. Gang Chen and Ms. Joan Block of the Hepatitis B Foundation.

Hepatitis B is the most common liver infection in the world affecting 2 billion people. In the U.S., it is estimated that up to 2 million Americans suffer from chronic hepatitis B, and Asian Americans account for more than half of these chronic hepatitis B cases. Hepatitis B and the increased risk of liver cancer represent the largest health disparity between Asians and non-Asians. Philadelphia has the 12th largest Asian population of any U.S. city (219,000 Asian residents), so there is an urgent need to educate and engage community-based organizations about hepatitis B and liver cancer.  Sharing the view of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, Dr. Esther Chernak stated that, “Hepatitis B is a global disease with a local impact, but the good news is that it is preventable and very treatable.  There is much we can do to intervene and stop the progression of this serious liver infection”.

View the video of the FREE HUG activity.

View a photo of this activity.

Page last modified October 21, 2009

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