TMA Grant to Help Combat Hepatitis in Fort Worth

 April 17, 2018

Underserved patients at two Fort Worth clinics will receive testing and treatment for hepatitis B thanks to a grant from the Texas Medical Association’s (TMA’s) Be Wise — ImmunizeSM program. TMA recently awarded the TMA student chapter at the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (TCOM) funds to provide free screening and shots for patients.

“By bringing the hepatitis screening and vaccination project into our Fort Worth community, we hope to provide a great service to those who either can’t afford it or who have no knowledge of the illness,” said Yohan Kim, one of the medical students leading the project.

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, often caused by a virus. Hepatitis B is passed from person to person through blood, semen, or other body fluids. The virus can spread through sexual contact, through sharing needles or syringes, or from mother to baby at birth. Hepatitis B can lead to liver cancer.

A vaccine is the best way to protect against the disease.

The TCOM TMA chapter is teaming up with the TCOM Infectious Disease Interest Group on the project. Students are offering care to refugees through the medical school’s Building Bridges Program. Hepatitis B is common in Asia and parts of Africa, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Students also are providing hepatitis B services at Mercy Clinic, which serves adults without insurance in south-central Fort Worth (the 76110 ZIP code).

At both clinics, TCOM students screen patients for hepatitis B and provide vaccinations to those who test negative for the virus. Mr. Kim said patients who test positive are referred to local clinics and physicians who can manage and treat the illness.

Medications to treat hepatitis B can reduce the risk of liver cancer in patients by 50 percent to 80 percent, according to CDC. CDC also estimates only 40 percent of people with hepatitis B know they have the infection, and only half of those diagnosed receive appropriate care.

Sunny_250“This project gives us a hands-on way to provide patient-centered medical care and learn the importance of follow-up care,” said Sunny Kang, a TCOM student who helped start the hepatitis B project.   

TMA created the Be Wise — Immunize Local Impact Grants program in 2012 to enable members of TMA and the TMA Alliance to help ensure their communities are healthy by offering childhood, adolescent, and adult vaccinations at special events and clinics. Members often team up with local organizations to reach residents in need. The TMA Foundation (TMAF), TMA’s philanthropic arm, funds Be Wise — Immunize and the Local Impact Grants. In five years, TMA has awarded grants totaling nearly $170,000 to provide more than 12,000 vaccinations across the state through the Local Impact Grants program.

“Hepatitis B is a preventable illness that can prove deadly for some. Our grant funding will ensure Fort Worth residents who might not otherwise receive proper care, or better yet prevention, will be protected,” said TMAF President Leslie H. Secrest, MD, of Dallas.

TMA actively works to improve vaccination rates in Texas through its Be Wise — Immunize program. TMA has given more than 340,000 shots to Texas children, adolescents, and adults since the program began in 2004. TMAF funds the Be Wise program in 2018 through generous support from H-E-B, TMF Health Quality Institute, and Pfizer Inc., along with contributions from physicians and their families.

TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 51,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 112 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.

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Contact:  Brent Annear (512) 370-1381; cell: (512) 656-7320; email: brent.annear[at]texmed[dot]org

Marcus Cooper (512) 370-1382; cell: (512) 650-5336; email: marcus.cooper[at]texmed[dot]org

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Last Updated On

April 17, 2018