The annual Khmer Health Forum was held in Long Beach, Calif., last weekend. As a part of the forum, free screenings for Hepatitis B were administered to anyone who wanted one.
Hep B is prevalent in much of Asia, especially Cambodia. As more people immigrate to the US, it can be a threat to populations here.
Mimi Chang, the head of the Asian Pacific Liver Center, which administered the screenings, said that if left untreated, the disease can lead to serious health problems, including cirrhosis and liver cancer.
“And usually you don’t get any symptoms, until it’s too late,” she told VOA Khmer.
So people like Hout Meymey used part of the day to have their blood drawn for a screening. For her, even though the needle poke was a little painful, it was worth it.
“If we have to treat the liver, it’s more painful,” she said. “Very painful.”
The screening takes just a few minutes. Anyone can have it done. Results are confidential and are sent to the patient’s home address.
Hep B is the world’s most common liver infection. If the body can’t fight it off, chronic infection can occur. Treatment is available. And it can be free for the uninsured. But medical experts say a screening is the first step.
“It’s important for your Cambodians folks to screen, because if we do the test and it’s negative, we have a vaccination,” said Visal Nga, a Long Beach-based physician. “But if it’s positive, we have medicine to help prevent it getting worse or becoming cancer.”
The next free screening in Long Beach will be held Oct. 20. More details can be found at asianpacificlivercenter.org.
VOA Khmer's Cheang Sophinarath reports from Long Beach.