Coronavirus

Covid-19 in Immigrant Communities

Being poor can be like treading water with the waterline right under your nose. The slightest ripple and you choke, a wave will submerge you. The novel coronavirus pandemic is a tsunami for those living in poverty. As the recent New York Times article illustrates, communities living in crowded conditions, with uncontrolled chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension, marginalized by the lack of comprehensible health information, and mistrusting the current systems to treat them fairly will be disproportionately ravaged by Covid-19. We have seen this in the past with tuberculosis, HIV, and hepatitis B. But the novel coronavirus acts faster and in some cases more aggressively and so reveals disparities even more dramatically.

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Oromo youth

For the Health and Well-being of Immigrant Children

A statement from the Northwest Immigrant and Refugee Coalition

It is critical for those of us charged with the well-being of children and families to speak out for their protection, as we have been reminded this week by the zero-tolerance policy separating and detaining families. We are a Washington State coalition of health professionals and public health practitioners; whose mission is to advocate and care for immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. The forceful separation of children from parents and the recent relocation of some of these children and parents to Washington State makes this national crisis also a local concern.

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blood test in a syringe

Hepatitis B Research and Immigrant and Refugee Communities

By Margaret Shuhart, MD, MS Director, Hepatitis and Liver Clinic, Harborview Medical Center

Hepatitis B research traditionally has been underfunded, as diseases such as HIV and hepatitis Chave been given higher priority by funding agencies. More recently, the NIH has established the Hepatitis B Research Network (HBRN), a group of 28 clinical sites across the US and Canada designed to address important clinical questions pertaining to hepatitis B in both children (7 sites)and adults (21 sites). Seattle has both adult and pediatric sites. Broad questions being asked by the HBRN include why some develop severe liver disease and liver cancer while others have inactive disease, how to improve the response to current treatments, and whether indefinite treatment is really required in those who have e antigen-negative disease.

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Sign saying "We are not criminals, we are hard workers"

Profiling Populations and Health Disparities

“There it was: AIDS as the litmus test for nurses and physicians, a means of identifying who would and who wouldn’t. I had seen this before in Boston…..

“So,” I asked, “is this kind of stuff still going on now, with Gordon?”

“Hell yes! Except they know who is and who is not willing to take care of a patient like Gordon. I am willing. Mary is willing. And quite a few others. But I don’t think they should take advantage of us for that reason. It’s convenient for them. Because if they bitch and moan and if they don’t take care of the patient right, then I feel like I have to step in. I can’t let that happen.”

Verghese, Abraham. My Own Country: A Doctor’s Story. Vintage, 1995.

Through this exchange with a nurse, Abraham Verghese recalls attitudes in the 1980s among medical staff engaged in the care of the first HIV patients in rural Tennessee. His remarkable memoir of his years as an Infectious Disease specialist during the early days of HIV recapturesthe palpable possibility that contamination with HIV was a death sentence faced by many in operating rooms and on medical wards, a belief held by some among medical professionals and civic leaders. In repeated vignettes Vergesse describes how these attitudes affected the resources and care gay men received.

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