WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2016

Stanford and Silicon Valley team up to battle hepatitis B

The Asian Liver Center at Stanford University is persuading corporations in Silicon Valley, California, to take action against hepatitis B using a five-step employer tool kit.

The non-profit Asian Liver Center recently launched a corporate outreach program with a tool kit for employers that integrates hepatitis B education and wellness into existing corporate wellness programs. The program brings visibility to hepatitis B in the workplace to benefit employees and the overall health of the community, MercuryNews.com reports.

The tool kit is meant to provide employees with education about the benefits of vaccination and testing and an online assessment to identify at-risk individuals based on the birthplace of the employee and his or her parents. People who are foreign-born or have foreign-born parents are much more likely to be living with undiagnosed chronic hepatitis B from mother-to-child transmission.

The World Health Organization recommends all at-risk individuals be screened and vaccinated. Despite the recommendation, many Asians and Pacific Islanders are uninformed, untested and unprotected. Approximately 40 to 65 percent of Asian-Americans never received screening and close to two-thirds of foreign-born, hepatitis-B infected Asian-Americans are unaware of the infection.

San Francisco and Santa Clara counties contain the two largest Asian-American and Pacific Islander populations in the U.S., at 34 percent and 33 percent respectively. The Asian Liver Center and Team HBV at Stanford University, an outreach arm of the Asian Liver Center, are working together to reach out to Silicon Valley employers with an Asian-American and Pacific Islander employee base of at least 20 percent.

Mie-Na Srien, the corporate outreach and programs coordinator for the Asian Liver Center, said the five-step tool is one way for employers to improve the overall well-being of employees.

"If (a corporation has) 2,000 employees who are all born in China, chances are a certain percentage will be chronically infected (with hepatitis B)," Srien said, according to MercuryNews.com. "Hepatitis B needs to be made a fundamental part of wellness. Just like some groups get routine screenings for cholesterol and blood pressure, for (Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders), hepatitis B is also a vital sign for which screening is absolutely necessary."

Srien said that through early detection, awareness and vaccination, Santa Clara County could become the first hepatitis-free county in the U.S.

Chronic hepatitis B can cause premature death from liver cancer or liver failure when left undetected and untreated. The disease kills one in four of people infected, MercuryNews.com reports.