Believe it or not, November has arrived and with the cooler weather has come the close of another year of hepatitis screenings. Just this weekend, we had 34 patients participate in our last screening scheduled for 2019 at Chin Evangelical Baptist Church in Lewisville, Texas.
Beyond our regular screenings, however, we have also been busy connecting with other organizations across the country to engage the topic of hepatitis awareness and management nationally. Back at the end of July, our very own Jenny He led a workshop in Gulfport, Mississippi for Mercy Housing and Human Development on how we run and sustain our screenings. They are now in the fourth year of a five-year grant that has led to a collaborative effort among the state health department, Boat People SOS (a Vietnamese-American organization), and a group of professors from the public health department of the University of Southern Mississippi to conduct HBV screenings and study barriers to proper screening and follow-up care. With 1 in every 4 Vietnamese-Americans in Mississippi carrying Hepatitis B (much higher than the national prevalence rate of 1 in every 12), they face challenges both similar to and different from our own in reaching out to our respective communities, including language barriers, health literacy, funding procurement, and access to phlebotomists and other medical professionals. It was a productive 2-hour workshop that sparked lots of ideas for potential future directions for both of our organizations and that gave insight into how another group has been navigating their own local challenges. They gained a lot from hearing about how we work, and we certainly learned a lot from their efforts as well.
In addition to visiting with our colleagues in Mississippi, another group of us had the opportunity to attend the annual meeting of the Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association (APAMSA) in New York City at the beginning of October. While not focused in particular on our role in community screenings for hepatitis, this forum offered us the opportunity to interact with many other similar organizations at medical schools across the country and allowed us to explore topics in leadership, racism, and the unique challenges and issues in healthcare that face Asian-American populations.
As always, check out our “Upcoming” page to stay up to date on our latest screenings, and don’t hesitate to reach out to schedule a screening in your area. Until next time!