Any disease with the nickname “the silent killer” is one that people shouldn’t be kept in the dark about.
The B Here campaign is coming to campus on Oct. 27 and Oct. 28 in order to educate and make the dangers of hepatitis B known.
On Tuesday, a free art exhibit from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. will be held in Freeborn Hall, showcasing work that focuses on the disease. On Wednesday, live comedy, dance and music performances will follow the exhibit from 6 to 9 p.m.
Hepatitis B can unknowingly attack a victim’s liver, and Asian Americans are twenty times more likely to be affected than the general population.
Dr. Christopher Bowlus, a hepatitis B expert at UC Davis Medical Center, said in an e-mail interview that the disease is one of the most common in the world and affects 400 million people – with close to 2 million in the United States. Of this 2 million, Dr. Bowlus said that most of the affected are either Asian immigrants or children of Asian immigrants, and while the general population’s risk of the disease is less than 1 percent, the risk for Asian immigrants ranges from 5 to 20 percent depending on the country of origin.
“Because HBV infection often does not cause any symptoms, most people do not know that they have it. Screening with a simple blood test can determine if someone has the infection,” Dr. Bowlus said. “Screening is made even more important because 25 percent of infected people with HBV will develop either cirrhosis or liver cancer.”
The art exhibit will present the necessary information about the disease in an easily accessible and visual way. In addition to art, multimedia and a liver sculpture showing what each stage of the disease looks like, there will be a brief educational video at the end of the exhibit.
Those that attend the free exhibit will receive a ticket to attend the performances the following night. Even though the performances are also free, this ticket is required for admittance.
Kevin Wu, an undeclared sophomore and YouTube celebrity “KevJumba” will emcee the night. Performers will also include Christine Gambito, known for her work on YouTube as the comedienne “HappySlip” and KABA Modern, an award-winning hip-hop dance group seen on “America’s Best Dance Crew.”
Gambito works her comedy around common and familiar situations and culture clashes she grew up with in addition to what her family thinks of her comedy and where the name “HappySlip” originated from.
“My comedy is very observational as I love to take on people’s characteristics as I imitate them,” Gambito said in an e-mail interview. “I will often reenact scenarios that I’ve been in or observe ones that my family or friends have been in.”
She said that getting tested at any age is important for the Asian American community, stressing that it is a life-threatening disease.
“Believe it or not, I used to be a nurse, so I’m someone who has actually given lots of hepatitis B vaccines to people,” said Gambito. “Even with that experience, though, I had no idea that hepatitis B had such a devastating impact on Asian communities here in America. I didn’t know that one in 10 Asian Americans are living with the disease and are unaware of it. So I had to get involved.”
Wu said the event, while fun and educational, is about taking action.
“We want to encourage Asian students to get themselves and their family members tested for hepatitis B,” Wu said. “And we want everyone to sign up to the B HERE campaign at willyoubhere.com.”
ELENA BUCKLEY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.