Hispanics Launch Hepatitis C Campaign
May 23, 2003
Hepatitis C is a disease that crosses economic, racial and social boundaries, affecting 1.8 percent of the US population. But in Colorado, hepatitis C may have targeted Hispanics with particular vengeance. Two local nonprofit organizations estimate that Hispanics comprise up to 30 percent of the 77,400 Coloradoans infected. The Hep C Connection and the Latino American Research and Service Agency recently launched an awareness campaign to target the ethnic group, which makes up 17 percent of the state's 4.3 million residents.Adapted from:
"My hope, my goal, is that people will take care of themselves more," said Julissa Molina Soto, multicultural outreach manager for the Hep C Connection.
The exact number of Hispanics infected is unclear, largely because there is limited data on victims' ethnicity and race. Molina Soto has noticed a lack of resources in Spanish, as well, something she hopes will change with the campaign that begins by educating Hispanic leaders about the disease. The goal is for leaders to take the information back into the community and encourage residents to get examined. She also has noticed that non-English speakers do not know where to go for help or are unaware that, if they qualify, financial assistance is available for treatment.
The biggest problem may be woven in beliefs that date back to the old country, where people still use curanderas (the curer), or folk healers, to cure ailments through rituals. One of Molina Soto's clients recently asked if a curandera could help take away the hepatitis C making her sick, she said.
As the multicultural outreach manager, Molina Soto is charged with breaking barriers with the Hispanic community and teaching them to trust modern medicine. Another issue is health insurance, which roughly one in every three Hispanics lacks, said Rosario C. de Baca, health coordinator for LARASA.
Rocky Mountain News (Denver, Colo.)
05.12.03; Javier Erik Olvera