Hepatitis B Foundation Intern and Guest Blogger Limi Lo shares her personal reflection of last week’s advocacy event when hepatitis B partners and advocates stormed Philadelphia City Council
A few months ago, I was sitting in my public policy class learning about advocacy. In simple English, it means, “to fight for a cause that you believe in.” As much as I understood what it meant, I never thought I would take part in a real advocacy event until I attended the City Council resolution presentation on May 8th, 2014. The event was held at the Philadelphia City Council during a city council session, and included supporters from Hep B United Philadelphia (lead by the Hepatitis B Foundation), HepCAP, and Philadelphia County Medical Society. Together, supporters came out and advocated for better viral hepatitis care in the greater Philadelphia area. City Councilman David Oh had introduced a resolution declaring May as Hepatitis Awareness Month and calls for all high-risk Philadelphians to receive appropriate testing and proper care for viral hepatitis.
The event not only provided me with a valuable learning experience, but more importantly, it was a life changing experience. I was able to witness community partners, students, professors, and other advocates coming together to help raise awareness and fight for a substantial cause (to improve hepatitis care). There were dozens of posters held high and being displayed: “Be proactive, get tested today”, “know more hepatitis”, and “Give hope to your family”. These messages were inspirational in addressing the need for city leaders to pay greater attention for the silent epidemic of viral hepatitis. Throughout the event, the atmosphere was filled with positive energy and a sense of hope was tangibly present—a hope that, in Philadelphia, all high-risk individuals can access screening tests, vaccines, and care for viral hepatitis.
Since beginning my practicum with the Hepatitis B Foundation, I’ve gained a variety of hands-on experience to raise community awareness, such as through screening events, providing linkage to care and now, participating in public health advocacy. I am grateful to be working with passionate and motivated individuals that want to make a difference in their community. Although, there is still much work to get done in improving the care for viral hepatitis, I can already feel the positive impact we are making as a community. The City Council event was a major stepping stone in advocating the cause at a local level and it was a huge success. I know in the near future, more and more people will become aware of the hepatitis issue and attention will be brought up to the federal and state level. But until then, let’s all be heroes and help save lives through advocacy.