Hepatitis Information Available in Ilocano, Pacific Islander Languages
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by Dave Smith
State health officials are offering health information materials in a variety of languages, including Pacific islander, for distribution across the state.
The educational materials are being provided to the Chuukese, Marshallese, Samoan, Tongan and Ilocano communities to raise awareness of the prevention, immunization, diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis among Asians and Pacific islanders.
“Hepatitis B and C are truly silent epidemics because most people don’t know that they have been infected with hepatitis,” said Thaddeus Pham, coordinator of adult viral hepatitis prevention for the Department of Health.
“There may not be any symptoms for many years, and there is still limited awareness about hepatitis. This is especially true for foreign-born Asian and Pacific Islander communities who may not have access to culturally appropriate, in-language materials about viral hepatitis.”
The DOH developed the culturally sensitive and in-language materials in partnership with Hep Free Hawaii and through a grant from Kaiser Permanente Hawaii.
Health officials estimate that one out of 10 Asians and Pacific Islanders in the US have hepatitis B, compared to one out of 1,000 in the general US population. Since according to the 2010 Census more than half of the people living in Hawaii are of Asian or Pacific islander descent, this means the burden of hepatitis in Hawaii is very high, they said.
According to DOH estimates, 1-3% of people in Hawaii have hepatitis B, and approximately 23,000 are living with hepatitis C. The diseases are the most common known causes of liver cancer in the state, and Hawaii has the highest rate of liver cancer in the country.