One of the most significant challenges in achieving health parity in a heterogeneous society surrounds the dearth of subgroup-specific data analysis and collection by large-scale surveillance systems. Without this information, significant disparities facing particular Asian subgroups are attenuated by inclusion with non-affected subgroups to arrive at population estimates. As such, resources may not be allocated appropriately to ensure that the health needs of underrepresented communities are addressed.
As a primary endeavor, AAHI works to identify the health care needs and monitor the health status of the various Asian American communities in Montgomery County. Disaggregated health data on Asian Americans in the County is essential to the accomplishment of that mission. AAHI has already begun to address these gaps through the execution of two community health needs assessments—in 2006 and 2008—and various program activities that incorporate data collection as a fundamental aspect of planning and implementation. Through the Patient Navigator Program’s internal database, data collected at health fairs, outreach events, and community health screenings, and extensive interviews with community members and health care providers, AAHI is now beginning to piece together the complexities and unique needs of this diverse population.
Hepatitis B Pilot Project
In September 2008, the Centers for Disease Control recommended that all individuals born in geographic regions with 2 percent or higher prevalence of chronic hepatitis B, a precursor to liver cancer, should be screened for presence of the disease. The following year AAHI introduced its Hepatitis B Pilot Project, a bold initiative that would screen high-risk Asian American residents of Montgomery County, as well as provide education, vaccinations, and treatment referrals to those in need. The initial screening, which took place in January 2010, and AAHI’s continued education and outreach efforts are the focus of an ongoing study entitled Hepatitis B Education, Screening, Vaccination & Treatment Program: A Pilot Project among the Chinese American Community in Montgomery County, MD.
The study aims to:
- Increase knowledge and awareness about hepatitis B among Asian American adults;
- Increase access to hepatitis B screening and vaccination for Asian American adults;
- Engage the community and strengthen capacity to address hepatitis B-related issues;
- Enhance data collection of hepatitis B among Asian Americans.