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Press Releases

Asian Liver Center at Holy Name Medical Center Receives $75,000 Grant from Gilead Foundation for Hepatitis B Awareness and Screening

Date: 11/14/2012

The Asian Liver Center at Holy Name Medical Center has been awarded a $75,000 grant from the Gilead Foundation in support of its Hepatitis B Awareness Campaign. The Gilead Foundation is a non-profit organization funded by Gilead Sciences, Inc., that provides monies to projects addressing health disparities and unmet needs.

Holy Name's Hepatitis B Awareness Campaign consists of education and prevention initiatives, screening, and disease surveillance for Asian-Americans, a population identified as one of the leading carriers of this serious and potentially deadly disease.  "Through the Hepatitis B Awareness Campaign, we reach out to low-income and uninsured people at risk for hepatitis B," says Kyung-Hee Choi, Director of the Korean Medical Program, "and we work with them through every step of their care management needs."

This is the third consecutive year that the Asian Liver Center, which is under the auspices of Holy Name's Korean Medical Program, has obtained support from the Gilead Foundation. Thus far, Gilead has granted Holy Name a total of $200,000.  This year's monies will be used to provide education and screenings for hepatitis B to people in the Korean-American community. The program expects to provide services to as many as 2,000 individuals in Korean churches and community organizations, and at health fairs sponsored by Holy Name and other agencies.

"The support of Gilead, a respected biomedical and philanthropic organization, speaks to the credibility of Holy Name Medical Center and the promise of our efforts," says Chul S. Hyun, MD, PhD, gastroenterologist and Medical Director of the Asian Liver Center.

Dr. Hyun says the hepatitis B virus is endemic to many Asian populations abroad, especially those in Korea, China, Vietnam and certain parts of Africa, as well as to many Asians in America. The prevalence of hepatitis B in Asian Americans, he says, is 4 to10 percent, compared with 0.2 percent of the white population in the U.S.  The Asian Liver Center finds that approximately four percent (4%) of those screened are carriers of hepatitis B, and that 40 percent require vaccination, due to their high-risk status.

Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease that ranges in severity from mild and lasting a few weeks (acute) to a serious, lifelong illness (chronic). The hepatitis B virus is spread through blood, semen and other body fluids infected with the virus. It can also be transmitted from mother to baby during childbirth. Up to 25 percent of hepatitis B carriers will suffer complications such as cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer and/or liver failure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with chronic hepatitis B infection should receive care and regular monitoring from a physician experienced in the treatment of hepatitis B.

Motivated by the disproportionate number of Asians at risk for or infected with hepatitis B, and the serious health consequences of hepatitis B for individuals and communities, Dr. Hyun has sought support for the Center's Hepatitis B Awareness Campaign by authoring fundraising proposals and working with the Gilead Foundation to establish the necessity for philanthropic support. Dr. Hyun says he and the Asian Liver Center are honored to serve as models for other physicians and healthcare organizations who are interested in identifying community health needs, developing related programs and services, and in taking a proactive role in securing the funding to make those initiatives a reality.

About The Asian Liver Center
The Asian Liver Center offers prevention initiatives, including vaccination and education. It conducts screenings to detect hepatitis B carriers (people infected with chronic hepatitis B) and determines if they are candidates for antiviral therapy. All patients receiving antiviral treatments are regularly monitored. Those with serious complications such as liver cancer and liver failure are referred to the Medical Center's Interventional Institute.

Beyond its comprehensive services, the Asian Liver Center further differentiates itself from similar programs by personalizing the care environment specifically to Asians.  The Center eliminates barriers to care that are posed by language and culture, engendering trust and positive interactions wherein patients are more likely to seek follow-up care and comply with healthcare advice.

For more information about Holy Name Medical Center's Asian Liver Center and the Hepatitis B Awareness Campaign, call 201-833-3399.