Minnesota Public Radio
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Doctors from the Mayo Clinic, University of Minnesota, pharmaceutical
company Gilead Sciences, and Gargar Clinic, a Somali-owned private
clinic in Minneapolis, are embarking on a campaign to inform the Somali
community about their increased risk for liver cancer.
They'll hold the
first of what they hope to be many meetings with the Somali community
Sunday at the Brian Coyle Center in Minneapolis.
The meeting is one attempt to raise awareness of recent findings
published in a Mayo Clinic Proceedings journal. The study found that
chronic hepatitis is primarily caused by two kinds of viral infections
-- hepatitis B and hepatitis C -- and both types are major risk factors
for liver cancer.
The study also found that both viruses are common among Somali
immigrants. Researchers recommended screening Somali immigrants for both
hepatitis B and C.
Mayo doctor Abdirashid Shire is one of the study authors and will be
among the physicians at the meeting Sunday. He said people who are
chronically infected often don't see symptoms for years.
"Since a majority of individuals show no symptoms of chronic hepatitis B
and hepatitis C infection, the infections may spread in the Minnesota's
Shire says that's why all Somalis should be screened before they pass the infection on.
"We know in terms of transmission, it's either horizontal --
which means from individual to individual through contaminated blood
and sexual intercourse with infected person-- and the other one is
vertical, where...pregnant mothers can pass the infection on to unborn
Shire hopes to enroll people who were born in Somalia or are of
Somali descent in his Mayo study, which examines the genetic structures
of both viruses, while also providing free hepatitis screening.
The meeting is from 2 - 6p, Sunday, March 25.