Fighting a ‘silent killer’

By Bert Eljera

Dr. Noel Fajardo draws blood from a volunteer during a Hepatitis B screening at a Las Vegas mall.

LAS VEGAS – As part of the on-going effort to promote awareness within the Filipino-American community about the dangers of Hepatitis B, a series of health screenings are being conducted by health care professionals.

About 50 people showed up for the screenings in Las Vegas held at Seafood City this weekend, complete with the presence of a popular Filipino-American entertainment group.

“The likelihood of people in our community contracting Hepatitis B is very real,” said Amie Belmonte, head of the Las Vegas chapter of the National Association of Filipino- American Federations (NaFFAA). “Education and prevention are the keys.”

Considered as a silent killer because it does not show obvious symptoms, the Hepatitis virus causes liver disease and jaundice, and afflicts 1 in 10 Asians, according to the World Health Organization.

Among those highly at risk are people from Asia, where the disease is prevalent.

To combat the highly contagious disease in Filipino-American communities across the United States, a project called Juan B. Free, has been launched.

In Las Vegas, spearheading the effort are NaFFAA, ABS-CBN Foundation International, Quest Laboratory, Las Vegas Gastroenterology (LVG) and Gilead.

“Awareness (of the disease) will help people make the right decisions,” said Robert Macabangkal of Asian Journal, the project’s media partner. “It’s a silent killer, and before you know it, you have passed it on to your loved ones.”

The virus may be acquired by sexual contact, exchange of body fluids, or from mother to child.

The Society of Seven, featuring American Idol star Jasmine Trias, provided enterntainment for the event.

Follow Bert Eljera on Twitter @vegaspinoy60 and on Facebook at

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