BOSTON, July 26, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Students at Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brown University, Massachusetts Asian & Pacific Islanders (MAP) for Health and local employee volunteers of Quest Diagnostics will join elected officials, community and healthcare leaders and Boston residents to once again rally the city of Boston as part of a global, synchronized action to highlight the need for greater awareness of hepatitis risk, prevention and treatment. The public health event will take place from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Sunday, July 28th at Chinatown Park (Rose Kennedy Greenway) and is part of the World Hepatitis Alliance's Guinness World Record attempt to have the most people participate in 24 hours at multiple venues around the world.
To view a video encouraging Boston to join Sunday's rally in Chinatown
Park, click here.
Participants and community families are also invited to add their brush strokes to a community art project to paint a colorful mural that will be donated to South Cove Community Health Center. The mural, designed by MAP for Health's own Narong Sokhom, will represent the 'See No Evil', 'Hear No Evil', 'Speak No Evil' theme to highlight that hepatitis B and C need greater attention and action around the world. The South Cove Community Health Center is dedicated to providing healthcare services to underserved patients, particularly Asian and Pacific Islanders, and encourages onsite hepatitis B screening and vaccination.
Last year, Boston recorded nearly 100 participants, helping the World Hepatitis Alliance achieve Guinness World Record status for the first time with more than 12,000 strong worldwide. They asked the Boston team of volunteers to help them do it again this year.
"Globally and here in the United States, hepatitis is a silent epidemic. Awareness can be prevention, it's that simple," said Jennifer Chen, Co-President of Team HBV at Harvard College. "We're proud to work with MAP for Health, Quest Diagnostics and others to share the message locally and promote awareness internationally."
"Millions of people in the United States are unaware of their hepatitis status, and are at serious risk for severe complications including cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer, and death," said Salim Kabawat M.D., Clinical Pathology Regional Medical Director, New England, Quest Diagnostics. "Quest Diagnostics is proud to again team up with Team HBV student volunteers, MAP for Health and the community leaders and residents of Boston – and those rallying around the world on Sunday – to do what we can to improve public health and protect those we love."
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), hepatitis is inflammation of the liver, most commonly caused by a viral infection. In particular, hepatitis B and C lead to chronic disease in hundreds of millions of people. Together, they are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer. Worldwide, 350 million people have chronic hepatitis B and 170 million have chronic hepatitis C. As infectious diseases, hepatitis B and C can be transmitted sexually, from mother to child at birth, and from blood-to-blood contact.
Hepatitis B is preventable, by using a vaccine and by using protection. Screening also plays an important role in stopping the spread of the disease. There also are treatments that can help. Routine hepatitis B vaccination was recommended for some U.S. adults and children beginning in 1982, and for all children in 1991. Since 1990, new hepatitis B infections among children and adolescents have dropped by more than 95% – and by 75% in other age groups. In many countries in Asia and Africa, universal vaccination for hepatitis B is yet to be instituted.
"While the prevalence of hepatitis B and C is higher than the prevalence of HIV or any cancer, awareness is low," Chen said.
World Hepatitis Day and the partnership between MAP for Health, Team HBV and Quest Diagnostics and the local community is especially important this year in light of new Hepatitis C guidelines from the United States Preventive Services Task Force.
The influential health advisory group concluded in June that all Baby Boomers (adults born between 1945 and 1965) should be tested at least once for hepatitis C. About three-quarters of the more than three million Americans with hepatitis C are baby boomers, most of them infected decades ago. But most do not know it because they have no symptoms. Individuals in this "baby boomer" generation are five times more likely than other adults to be infected, and one-time testing could prevent more than 120,000 deaths in this age group.
Earlier this month, Quest Diagnostics also announced a partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to promote early detection and medical intervention for Americans infected with hepatitis C (http://newsroom.questdiagnostics.com/2013-07-10-Quest-Diagnostics-Partners-with-CDC-to-Improve-Hepatitis-C-Public-Health-Research-to-Promote-Early-Detection-and-Medical-Intervention).
Melissa Wong, Chair of the Board of Directors at MAP for Health added, "Combating hepatitis B and C starts with awareness, and community events like World Hepatitis Day help spread the word in an exciting and engaging way. In addition, MAP for Health is proud to work with Team HBV and Quest Diagnostics to provide free screenings to the community. Testing is crucial. If a chronic viral infection is discovered, treatments are available to prevent severe complications."
The Boston team has gained the support of Cambridge City Councillor Minka vanBeuzekom and multiple community organizations.
For more information about the World Hepatitis Day Boston rally led by Team HBV, Quest Diagnostics, and MAP for Health, and for a list of screening events in the area, visit TeamHBV.org/Boston.
For more patient information on hepatitis C, visit www.QuestDiagnostics.com/HepC
About Team HBV
Team HBV is an international community comprised of collegiate chapters, high school chapters and local volunteers based out of the Asian Liver Center (ALC) at Stanford University. ALC is the first non-profit organization in the United States that addresses the disproportionately high rates of chronic hepatitis B infection and liver cancer in Asians and Asian Americans. Learn more at TeamHBV.org/Boston.
About MAP for Health
MAP for Health is a community-based, non-profit organization that works to improve healthcare access, disease prevention and service delivery for the Asian and Pacific Islander community in Massachusetts. More information about MAP for Health is available at mapforhealth.org.
About Quest Diagnostics
Quest Diagnostics is the world's leading provider of diagnostic information services that patients and doctors need to make better healthcare decisions. The company offers the broadest access to diagnostic information services through its network of laboratories and patient service centers, and provides interpretive consultation through its extensive medical and scientific staff. Quest Diagnostics is a pioneer in developing innovative diagnostic tests and advanced healthcare information technology solutions that help improve patient care. Additional company information is available at QuestDiagnostics.com. Follow us at Facebook.com/QuestDiagnostics and Twitter.com/QuestDX.
Quest, Quest Diagnostics, and all associated Quest Diagnostics registered or unregistered trademarks are the property of Quest Diagnostics. All third-party marks are the property of their respective owners.
Caitlin McHugh, Quest Diagnostics: 201-874-4940
Jenny Dudikoff, KP Public Affairs 916-224-9429
Dan Haemmerle: 973-520-2900
SOURCE Quest Diagnostics