The Garden Island (Hawaii) (11.29.12)
The Kaua’i County Council, in Hawaii, unanimously approved a resolution supporting Mala Pono Health Services’ goal of eliminating hepatitis B virus (HBV) from the island through its Hepatitis B Elimination Project. The nonprofit will launch a three-year, $400,000 education project to eliminate HBV as a transmissible disease on Kaua’i. In response to Director D.Q. Jackson’s request, the council introduced a resolution to encourage citizens to get tested.
Jimmy Yoon, president and medical director of Malama Pono’s Board of Directors, stated that approximately 400 million people in the world—and at least 2 million in the United States—are infected with HBV. Data from CDC and the Hawaii Department of Health indicate that approximately 1,000 people on Kaua’i and 40,000 in the state of Hawaii are infected. He explained that HBV is a silent killer, and infected people do not symptoms until it is too late. Yoon added that the series of three vaccinations that can prevent HBV costs about $200, but the cost may depend on one’s insurance benefits. Some people may even be eligible for free vaccine. Treatment for the baby of a mother with HBV begins at birth, and all babies receive vaccination to prevent the disease.
Jackson explained that the project is trying to avoid cases of liver cancer, which can be a result of HBV infection. He noted that those most at risk are people born in countries where the disease is endemic or children of individuals born in those countries, which include the Philippines, West Samoa, and the Marshall Islands. He encouraged people who were born on those islands to be screened, and if they are chronically infected, to get treated. Jackson also reminded the council that December 1 is World AIDS Day, a time to remember the more than 300 people from Kaua’i who have died from AIDS.
For more information visit: www.malama-pono.org.