The CDC NPIN Featured Partner resource offers HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis, STD, and TB prevention-focused organizations a platform to showcase their services, programs, and materials. Our goal is to highlight the work of CDC's prevention partners and encourage partners to connect with each other to share information and strategies. Organizations are nominated by CDC or their peers, or are self-nominated. Those selected are featured on the NPIN Web site for the month.
The Asian Health Coalition (AHC) was founded in 1996 and has played a critical role in community health promotion, education, health advocacy, and capacity building to improve the health of Asian American communities in Illinois. AHC is a nonprofit organization uniquely focused on Midwest pan-Asian health disparities. With a strong focus on institutionalizing systemic change to improve community health, AHC’s programs use a collaborative partnership approach in the areas of health promotion and translational research with the overarching theme of increasing Asian American community visibility and voice.
Over the last 15 years, AHC has established, maintained, and strengthened partnerships with over 25 ethnic-specific community-based organizations in the metropolitan Chicago area, including the Cambodian, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Lao, Japanese, Indian, Filipino, and Pakistani communities. Through these collaborations, AHC employs culturally and linguistically appropriate health programs or initiatives in the areas of viral hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, mental health and substance abuse, and other health issues.
The agency’s collaborative partnerships for community health aim to improve population-level health outcomes by creating important and sustainable environmental changes in the different Asian community sectors in which health-related behaviors occur. AHC uses a multisectoral approach as a mechanism for information sharing, coordination, and supporting the inclusion of all major stakeholders regardless of sector of work or organizational affiliation. Programs and services are designed to efficiently and innovatively address health gaps and increase knowledge in individuals and leaders in the Asian communities. Through such partnerships, Asian American communities will be better equipped with the knowledge of prevention of chronic diseases.
Testing at a community event
AHC developed the Hepatitis Education and Prevention Program (HEPP) in 1997 in response to the high prevalence of hepatitis B in the Asian American community, the devastating consequence of liver cancer occurring in 25 percent of hepatitis B (HBV) carriers, and the enormous disparity in liver cancer among Asian Americans.
In the United States, 1 in 12 Asian Americans is chronically infected with HBV. Of the approximately 1.5 million individuals infected with chronic HBV in the nation, nearly 50 percent are of Asian ethnicity. Sixty-five percent of all Asian Americans are foreign born, bridging the global burden of this disease from Asia directly into Asian American communities. This disease remains one of the greatest health disparities between the Asian and non-Asian communities.
The agency’s HEPP program is partly funded with support through a cooperative grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The purpose of HEPP is to:
- Provide targeted outreach and health education to Asian Americans in Chicago and the surrounding metropolitan area, including Cook, DuPage, and Kane counties, regarding viral hepatitis.
- Increase hepatitis screening rates for high-risk Asian populations.
- Provide appropriate linkages to care for either the hepatitis vaccine or medical follow-up for chronic hepatitis infections.
The success of HEPP lies in a multitiered strategy of community-based partnerships, the community health worker (CHW) model, also known as the lay health advisor model, academic institutional support, and public health system integration. The community-based partnerships have built on the strengths of community-based organizations (CBOs) having the knowledge, insight, and trust of the communities they serve. This has been critical to identifying their community health workers. Secondly, screenings and vaccinations are held at community locations that are both familiar and easily accessible to community members.
The CHW model has several strengths:
- The ability to reach individuals that are traditionally difficult to access.
- The information can be conveyed in the language, cultural background, and circumstances of the community member.
- It uses and takes advantage of characteristics of ethnic communities and enclaves that are already present, such as a stronger neighborhood attachment and patterns of natural helping.
- CHWs informally provide social support, which has been shown to be associated with positive outcomes for health and increases in healthy behaviors.
AHC wants to give communities the capacity they need to increase knowledge, awareness, and prevention methods for hepatitis B. AHC aims to build the capacity of the partner CBOs and develop and implement a model that can be managed, sustained, and replicated. Paramount to the program’s success is the integration of linkage to care models to ensure adequate follow up and treatment for those infected and at risk. Through partnership with safety net hospitals, bilingual CHWs, and area undergraduate and medical students, AHC is building the infrastructure for long-term linkages to care to reduce morbidity and mortality from this preventable disease. Through this model program, AHC is also creating a pipeline of Asian healthcare providers who will continue to work toward the eradication of this devastating yet preventable disease.
In the 12 months from July 2009 to June 2010, the HEPP program provided outreach and education to 7,747 individuals in partnership with local CBOs in 12 Asian American communities. AHC’s advocacy efforts include membership in a number of national viral hepatitis organizations, including the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable and the National Hepatitis Task Force, in order to align local level initiatives with the national agenda.
Asian Health Coalition
180 W. Washington Street, Suite 1000
Chicago IL 60602
312-372-7070, ext. 223
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