|KHEIR Center and APAIT fight Hepatitis
B and HIV in the Korean Community
(Los Angeles-June 17, 2010)
The Hepatitis B Virus and the Human Immunodeficiency
Virus (HIV) are silent killers in the Korean American
community. In recognition of Hepatitis Awareness Month
in May and National HIV Testing Week in June, KHEIR
Center partners with the Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention
Team (APAIT) to host a health workshop on Hepatitis
B, HIV and crystal meth.
On Tuesday, June 29 at 6:30pm in the KHEIR Center
conference room, Dr. John Kim of Loma
Linda Hospital will address the risks of Hepatitis B
and liver failure among Koreans, how to identify chronic
Hepatitis B, and the importance of getting tested and
vaccinated. Armand Cachero of APAIT will cover the basics
of HIV and its correlation to crystal meth usage among
Korean youth, while psychologist Dr. Bryan Choi will
share his clinical experiences with Koreans living with
HIV as well as useful community resources that are available,
such as Korean-language HIV support groups.
Given the risks of both infections among Korean Americans
and the Koreatown community, KHEIR Clinic will also
offer free Hepatitis B and HIV tests to the general
public from June 28 until July 2.
Hepatitis B is a global epidemic that impacts
two billion people, but it is also a local epidemic
right here in Koreatown, says Erin Pak, CEO of
KHEIR Center. As a community clinic, we see Korean
patients with liver problems on a regular basis. Due
to our communitys risks for liver cancer, getting
tested for Hepatitis B can be a matter of life or death.
Its vital that every Korean American get tested.
Chronic Hepatitis B affects 350 million live worldwide
and kills up to 600,000 people each year. As the virus
is endemic in Asia, about 10 percent of Asians in the
U.S. are chronically infected, compared to less than
one percent of the general population. Although many
Asians may have been infected since birth, the virus
often causes no symptoms for years and can go undetected.
Without treatment, 1 out of every 4 people infected
may develop liver cancer or liver failure.
HIV is not viewed as an Asian disease,
but our communities are certainly not immune from it!
Unfortunately, this denial only hurts us since were
unaware of how to protect ourselves and treat those
who are infected, shares Cachero, program coordinator
for APAIT. Lack of knowledge can lead to risky
behaviors, such as illicit drug use with shared needles
and unprotected sex. Even if you dont suspect
that you are infected with HIV, you are never 100% sure
until you are tested.
Asian Americans were previously less than 1% of persons
with HIV/AIDS in the U.S., but that figure increased
more than five-fold in recent years. Though this number
is small compared to other ethnic groups, actual counts
may be higher as underreporting or misclassification
may disguise a more widespread problem. While the majority
of Asian Americans perceive themselves at some risk
for HIV infection, yet the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention found that Asian Americans aresignificantly
less likely than other ethnicities to report having
been tested for HIV, with less than halfhaving been
tested during the past year.
While no cure yet exists for either Hepatitis B or
HIV, both are preventable and treatable. To schedule
an HBV screening or vaccination or an HIV test, call
the KHEIR Clinic at (213) 637-1070. Walk-in visits are
KHEIR Center, a 501(c)(3) non-profit agency founded
in 1986, offers culturally and linguistically appropriate
health care and social services to the low income, limited-English
speaking Korean and Latino residents of Southern California.
In addition to operating the only full-time community
clinic with majority Korean patient base in the United
States to offer assistance in English, Spanish and Korean,
the organization maintains a Social Services Department
and two Adult Day Health Care (ADHC) centers that render
more than 80,000 service visits and 100,000 hot meals
on an annual basis. http://www.lakheir.org