Merced Sun-Star (10.16.12)
Over the last year, several focus groups in Merced have determined there is a lack of knowledge about hepatitis B in the Hmong community, which is a group highly susceptible to the disease. Project prevention— an organization of young professionals, UC Merced students, and a researcher— received a one-year $27,500 grant to help combat hepatitis B. Grant monies were used to ascertain what Hmong community members knew about the disease and to create a coalition. Project members conducted four focus groups with community leaders and with local residents suffering with the disease. According to project member Linda Xiong, there was a lack of knowledge about the transmission of hepatitis B and how to get vaccinated or get treatment.
Another member of the project, Jennifer Xiong, noted that the lack of knowledge can likely be attributed to low education and literacy rates in the Hmong community. Some do not understand how vaccination works— how the body can become immune to the virus after vaccination. More education of local health care providers is also needed so that they are aware that the Hmong are at risk for the disease and can encourage vaccinations for these patients.
The work of Project prevention was recently completed, and the group has now applied for a new grant to continue their efforts of more health education for health care providers and Hmong mothers who may be infected with hepatitis B. The goal would be to ensure their infants receive all three hepatitis B vaccines to help prevent chronic disease from developing.