Hepatitis B is a serious disease of the liver, which can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer. Caused by the hepatitis B virus, the disease can go virtually unnoticed until it’s too late, says Dirk Baumann, M.D., a Mills-Peninsula vascular surgeon and chair of the San Mateo Hep B Free Campaign.
In 2009, the San Mateo County Medical Association Community Service Foundation along with a strong steering committee pooled their resources to begin the San Mateo Hep B Free Campaign. Modeled after the highly successful San Francisco Hep B Free program, its goal is to raise awareness about the severity of the disease in San Mateo County.
“San Mateo County has an incredibly diverse population, of which nearly 26 percent are Asians and Pacific Islanders (API),” Dr. Baumann says. “One out of every 10 people in this population has chronic hepatitis B, and two thirds do not know it.”
San Mateo Hep B Free has sponsored dozens of educational, screening and vaccination events, published informational articles and held educational forums for the public and health care providers.
Four major organizations are collaborating on this lifesaving campaign: San Mateo County Medical Association, the Hospital Consortium of San Mateo County (which includes Mills-Peninsula Health Services), San Mateo County Health System and the Asian Liver Center at Stanford University.