Daily Herald (Chicago) (03.28.13)
On Saturday March 30, the Lao American Organization of Elgin (LAOE) in Illinois is sponsoring free hepatitis B testing, followed by vaccinations if needed, for Asian and African immigrants. The event targets individuals ages18 and older who have never been vaccinated against hepatitis B. According to May Saengpraseuth, LAOE’s women and health services program director, it is the first time both testing and vaccinations will be offered free of charge. Formerly, the tests were free but the vaccine was discounted to approximately $90. Also, LAOE will provide onsite translation for speakers of Lao, but others who do not speak English should bring their own translators. The participants will receive their results after a few days. Those who get a positive result will need to go to a doctor for treatment while those who are negative will be eligible for the free vaccine, which is given as three shots over six months. Saengpraseuth stated that the outreach is not only Elgin, but also the Rockford and Aurora areas.
The event is part of a hepatitis B program by the Asian Health Coalition in Chicago and is funded by a $150,000 CDC grant. Edwin Chandrasekar, executive director of the Asian Health Coalition, said the goal of the hepatitis B program is to partner with 10 organizations and community health clinics in the Chicago metropolitan area to screen 1,500 people by fall of 2013. He explained that although hepatitis B affects only one percent of the US population, it can be as high as 20 percent among immigrants from certain parts of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, including persons from Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos. He emphasized that the disease is treatable and, with treatment, individuals can live a long and healthy life.
The organizers are hoping that at least 80 to 100 people show up.
The event will be from 1:00–3:00 p.m. at Senior Services Associates off the entrance at 205 Fulton Street. For more information, visit www.laoelgin.com or call (847) 695–4505.