Hawaii: Help on HIV and Hepatitis Needed
June 14, 2006
A local nonprofit group that advocates for infectious disease education and research is hoping to stem the spread of HIV and hepatitis by providing personal hygiene kits to homeless people in Kaka'ako. The OutPatient Intravenous Infusion Therapy Association (OPIVITA) is seeking donations to purchase 1,000 kits for distribution at the Next Step temporary shelter.
The kits include razors, shaving cream, toothbrushes, toothpaste, nail clippers, nail files, soap, and other hygiene products. OPIVITA officials say the drive was prompted by a case last month in which hepatitis may have been transmitted to a person sharing a razor.
"We didn't realize that there was this kind of problem until we talked to people who were homeless in the shelter," said Ken Akinaka, executive director of the Hepatitis Prevention, Education, Treatment and Support Network of Hawaii and chief operating officer of OPIVITA. "We're trying to give [the kits] to those we know are affected by hepatitis B, C or HIV. If there's a possibility of spreading diseases, at least we contain it to not being spread that way."
At least 300 homeless people use the Next Step shelter. Utu Langi, Next Step's project director, said it currently is housing at least 100 people more than its 200-person capacity. He welcomed the donation drive: "I think it's wonderful."
So far, OPIVITA has collected more than $300 toward its goal. The group plans to distribute the kits on July 28 during a health education event at Next Step.
06.13.06; Robert Shikna
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.