By CARLOS GALLEGO
AAP staff writer
ST. PAUL (Aug. 11, 2012) — Nearly 40 community leaders and health professionals met to review the results of the first Learn and Live Community Cancer forum held this past May and to continue to develop a plan that will increase the screening rates in the Hmong community.
At the May event, participants listened to Cancer data presented by Dr. Blong Xiong, University of Minnesota and discussed Cancer in the Hmong community, today’s event aside from being a continuation of the process really began to develop a clear direction in selecting strategies to reach the community.
Organizations represented at today’s event included: American Cancer Society, NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center, SAGE project, Intercultural Cancer Council, Hmong Health Coalition, Minnesota Department of Health and Asian Women United.
Lee Yang, Learn and Live Program Supervisor opened the forum by reviewing some of the findings gathered at the May forum. Some of the barriers discussed at the previous forum included:
• Few Hmong Women visit doctors
• Cultural Barriers continue to be pervasive in the Hmong community
• Many did not know men carry the HPV virus
• Embarrassed to have their private parts seen
• Believe in traditional methods of treatment
Today’s participants seemed to truly understand the impact Cancer is having in the Hmong community and were engaged in both sharing their opinions as well as seeking to be better educated. There was so much interest and enthusiasm that the facilitator chose to allow the first section of the forum to run over so individuals could share their opinions and express their concerns.
Some ideas they mentioned for reaching out to the community included working with Hmong radio and Hmong churches. It was also mentioned that it would be useful to develop a fact sheet to be distributed throughout the community.
Participants expressed a number of ideas they felt would improve cancer education, screenings and treatment in the Hmong community, they included having mobile vehicles that are visible in the community, getting the support of Hmong influential people, touring health clinics and holding more cancer forums in the community.
Tou Thao also mentioned that it would be beneficial to identify cancer survivors in the Hmong community and have them be champions in educating others.
Shoua Kong of Asian Women United further stated it is important for cancer information to be shared with organizations not necessary involved in the health field. This will allow organizations such as hers to help to educate and spread the word around Cancer.
Shar Thao mentioned there are many women in the community who stay home and do not have access to information. She noted she is not afraid to have mammographies and has had three yet she knows that many women in the community are afraid to be screened and she sought advice on how to get them to understand the importance of being screened.
The conference continued with a data presentation by Dai Vu of the American Cancer Society. She noted while Whites have cancer at the highest rates, African Americans who die at the highest rates due the fact they have lower screening rates that Whites at are often diagnosed at later stages of cancer.
She went on to mention that most national data on Cancer in the Asian Pacific Islander communities clump all the communities together this causes many to feel that Cancer is really not as big a problem in the Asian community. She noted while there are some communities that lower higher rates of cancer screening and early detection that this is not the case for such groups as the Vietnamese, Thai and Hmong who have among the highest rates of Cancer among the Asian Pacific Islander communities.
She noted that Asian Pacific Islander have the lowest rates of mammography screenings nationally at 37.9 percent. This compares with mammography screenings for: Whites (52 percent), African American (49.9 percent), Latinos (41 percent) and Native Americans (46 percent). Ms. Vu also mentioned that non-Caucasian tend to be diagnosed at later thus increasing the odds that their cancer will be detected all later stages. Dai also mentioned many in the community are surviving breast cancer
In closing Lee Yang noted that there next steps are as follows: ”
• We plan to have more community forums with the community to continue the discussion on the health disparities related to cancer.
• We will be conducting one-on-one interviews with Hmong community leaders to gather ideas on how we can work together as a community and what approaches should we be taking to encourage Hmong women to be screened for breast and cervical cancer.
• Our ultimate goal is to create a task force that will involve community leaders and health professionals. The task force will mobilize the Hmong community to increase the rates of Hmong when who are breast screened and decrease the health disparity that affect the Hmong community.
• Continue to have community forums to discuss the health disparity and generate ideas between community members and health professionals on how to encourage Hmong women to get early breast screenings.
• Invite younger Hmong community members to be at the table”
For more information on HAP’S Live and Learn program contact Lee Yang, 651-495-1552 or [email protected]
See Test and Treat will be held Oct. 11, at NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center. For information contact Dia Xiong at [email protected]