Jade balloons tied to bikes all over campus Monday morning were the first of many indicators of Hepatitis B Awareness Week. Featuring speakers and events all over campus, the awareness week was organized by Team HBV, an outreach arm of the Jade Ribbon Campaign led by the Asian Liver Center at the Stanford School of Medicine.
Hepatitis B affects one in 10 Asians and Pacific Islanders, and one in four of those affected eventually die of liver cancer, according to Team HBV. The virus is also responsible for 80 percent of all liver cancer cases. Team HBV is the primary student outreach group for hepatitis B and spans numerous colleges and high schools throughout the nation.
Currently all Team HBV collegiate chapters are gathering support for an online petition urging President Obama to sustain the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s funding for viral hepatitis treatment and to include viral hepatitis in the Global Health Initiative.
Since 2010, Team HBV has devoted a week each year in May to increase campus awareness of hepatitis B and liver cancer. Hepatitis B Awareness Week is a collection of educational outreach events that feature distinguished speakers, free food and jade-colored memorabilia.
“On Monday, our kickoff event involved placing jade balloons and important hep B facts on bikes throughout campus,” said Christopher Paiji ‘13, president of Team HBV. The next event, which will take place Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Asian American Activities Center (A3C) ballroom, will be “The Jade Perspective on Health Advocacy,” featuring Arcadi Kolchak, policy aide to Santa Clara County supervisor Liz Kniss.
“Overall it was a great way to let Team HBV’s mission be heard,” said Christina Wang ‘15, director of campus relations for Team HBV. “I hope everyone on campus at least saw one jade balloon today, a symbol of Team HBV’s cause to let more people know about the silent killer that is hepatitis B.
“The worst thing about the virus is that its asymptomatic, so there is very little economic or political attention spent on this virus,” Wang said. “It’s our hope to change that, and a lot of that starts with being aware that the virus is pretty deadly.”
Vaden Health Center offers free hepatitis B screenings to all students with a standard appointment. Stanford Team HBV has several methods to direct students to this free screening.
“When I attended a dinner in March that celebrated the kickoff of the Santa Clara Hep B Free campaign, I learned that an estimated 50,000 people in the county have hep B, with two-thirds unaware of their infected status,” Paiji said. “Imagine the number of jeopardized that would have easily been prevented if these individuals had known to screen for Hep B earlier. Stanford Team HBV hopes to turn this trend around by educating the surrounding at-risk communities.”
Later in the week, Team HBV plans to host health education events in White Plaza and in the major dining halls, along with handing out jade cookies and sunglasses.