On Sunday, July 19, the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center took part in a “World Hepatitis Day” Candlelight Vigil at Washington Square Park. The vigil was in honor of the 4,000 people worldwide who pass away every day due to viral hepatitis. This event was associated with World Hepatitis Day on July 28th, an international observance to build awareness of the global burden of viral hepatitis and to empower the community that they can prevent hepatitis. Worldwide 400 million people are living with hepatitis B or C. In NYC 250,000 residents are living with chronic (lifelong) viral hepatitis, and most of them do not know that they are infected. Viral hepatitis is the leading cause of liver cancer and liver transplantation. With better awareness and understanding of how we can prevent hepatitis we can eliminate this disease and save 4,000 lives a day. With a focus on youth, over 125 high school and college students came out for the candlelight vigil. Students participated in educational activities raising general awareness of viral hepatitis. Students decorated their individual candles in preparation for the vigil. We were honored to have two speakers, Paul Bolter of the American Liver Foundation and Sue Preziotti, an NYC Hepatitis Advocate. They each spoke of how their lives were influenced and how they overcame the hardships posed by hepatitis. We also watched Faces of Hepatitis, a series of short videos highlighting the stories of individuals affected by viral hepatitis. Dr. Su Wang, previously the Assistant Medical Director of the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, was featured in one of these videos as well. During the vigil, we lit our candles and participated in a moment of silence in remembrance of the 4,000 lives claimed by viral hepatitis each day.
The event was organized by Hepatitis B Interns: Nelson Chiu, Jefferson Bai, Annie Huynh, and Sophia Huang under the direction of Niki Bannister, the Hepatitis B Program Associate. A big thank you to partner organizations that took part in this event, including Hep Free NYC, Team HBV NYC, William F. Ryan Community Health Network and the American Liver Foundation.
Written by Isaac Song
Isaac is currently the communications intern at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. He graduated from Rutgers University with a BA in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry.