Monday, May 05, 2008

When Community Awareness Efforts are Taken Out of Context

As a public relations firm, we have the opportunity to work with many types of organizations including nonprofits. Today, I was disheartened to read a blog post by Jeff Trexler. In his blog, uncivilsociety dot org, Trexler defames and pokes fun at the Hepatitis B Foundation’s grass roots effort to raise awareness in their hometown community at the monthly First Friday celebration in May. Ignorance is bliss until someone you know gets sick.

Trexler says that the Foundation “hijacked the city’s First Friday celebration of the arts to promote its own health care agenda.” This is far from the truth.

According to Bob Quon, First Friday Doylestown Chairman, “Local well established nonprofit organizations in our immediate region are invited to be showcased during First Friday. Every month features a different cause. The nonprofits have brought education, awareness and a voice to our community and the community has responded very well.” He said, “It is our way of giving back to the community.”

Just some of the nonprofit causes that have been highlighted at First Friday Doylestown include: Autism Awareness, ALS, Breast Cancer Awareness, CB Cares, Tabor Children’s House, Bucks County SPCA, Doylestown Fire Company, Central Bucks YMCA, National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) and Bucks Association for Retarded Citizens (BARC).

Joan Block, Co-founder and Executive Director of the Hepatitis B Foundation said, “The Hepatitis B Foundation truly appreciates the support it receives from the community. We are proud to be a resource for students, scientists, healthcare providers, and especially those families affected by serious liver disease.” She said, “We are honored to participate in First Friday Doylestown since May is National Hepatitis Awareness Month. We have the opportunity to give back to and educate people in our own back yard.”

Trexler also intimates that “he wouldn’t touch [the O’Liver mascot]” leaving one to assume that he fears getting sick. If this is correct, then little does he know.

Hepatitis B is the world's most common liver infection. It is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV), which attacks and injures the liver. It is transmitted through blood, unprotected sex, shared or re-used needles, and from an infected mother to her newborn baby during delivery. Hepatitis B is NOT contracted through casual touching.

In fact, worldwide, 2 billion people (1 out of 3 people) have been infected with hepatitis B. 400 million people have become chronically infected (which means they are unable to get rid of the virus). An estimated 1 million people die each year from hepatitis B and its complications. In the United States, over 12 million people have been infected (that’s 1 out of 20 people). Almost 100,000 new people are infected with hepatitis B each year. An estimated 5,000 Americans die each year from hepatitis B and its complications.

The Hepatitis B Foundation is dedicated to finding a cure and improving the quality of life for those affected by hepatitis B worldwide. Their commitment includes funding focused research, promoting disease awareness, supporting immunization and treatment initiatives, and serving as the primary source of information for patients and their families, the medical and scientific community, and the general public. There is a lot that still needs to be done to improve prevention, education, and access to medical care and treatment.

There are many facts about hepatitis B that Trexler may not be aware of. To learn more go to

To learn more about the great things First Friday Doylestown is doing, go to

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