Bay Area News Group
Not many people would associate bingo with hepatitis B, but one Lynbrook High School student is using games to create awareness of the disease.
Evaline Cheng, 17, is one of 15 Bay Area students who have been chosen to serve on the Jade Ribbon Youth Council, a group formed in 2003 through the Stanford University's Asian Liver Center to educate friends and family about how to eradicate hepatitis B.
"It is especially prevalent in the Asian American communities," says Evaline, who is serving her second year on the council and hopes to inspire those susceptible to get tested for the preventable disease, despite the stigma surrounding it.
Evaline has used games and other activities to spread her message on the Lynbrook campus as well as in the greater community.
Last month, she spearheaded Sunnyvale's Hepatitis B Awareness week.
The Sunnyvale City Council recently honored Evaline for her efforts.
On May 12, Evaline attended the city council meeting to receive the proclamation, where Mayor Anthony Spitaleri thanked her for being a part of the prevention effort.
"It was a very nice experience, just to see that all the people in the community were there to support us and could hear about our cause," Evaline says.
One of Evaline's goals is to inform people that hepatitis B can be transmitted through infected blood, sexual contact with an infected person and from mother to child, the most common way in Asian Pacific Islanders.
According to the Asian Liver Center, one in 12 Asian Pacific Islanders in the United States is infected with chronic hepatitis B, vs. one in 1,000 Caucasians.
The virus leads to an inflammation of the liver, causing liver cancer or liver failure.
"Generation after generation transmit [hepatitis B] to their children," says Amy Yu, outreach coordinator for the liver center. "Hepatitis B is endemic to the [Asian] population." While there is no cure, there is a vaccination to prevent hepatitis B. The three-shot series is required for students registering for school, but not everyone has been vaccinated.
"We are interested in telling [students] to tell their relatives or their parents, the older generation who haven't been vaccinated," Evaline says.
She broadened the chain of awareness by joining forces with the Asian Pacific American Students for Leadership group on campus to spread the word.
A majority of those with hepatitis B do not exhibit any symptoms, Evaline says. If symptoms do develop, fever, fatigue, joint or muscle pain, loss of appetite or nausea can be mistaken for flu symptoms.
"Most don't know they have it until it is too late," Yu says.
Evaline also urges those susceptible to get tested. She creates bingo games and other activities to get Lynbrook students involved and to "educate in a fun way" on campus.
"It is really hard to spearhead a cause like this on a large campus," Evaline says. "It is much more effective and a lot more fun to work with other people." Evaline was inspired to join the awareness movement after participating in a public health internship with Councilman Otto Lee, where she learned about the disease.
Through her experience with the Jade Youth Council, she hopes find a future career where she can be a medical researcher and public health outreach coordinator.
"A lot of times teenagers feel like they are overlooked or they don't have much opportunity to get involved in the community," Evaline says. "If we have a cause we are interested in, we can make a difference."