Healthy You Healthy Hennepin

Old man smiling

Healing knowledge

September 2015

Chia Yang knows the value of talking to a doctor and getting an accurate medical diagnosis. An important discovery more than 25 years ago saved his life.

The story begins in Laos, where Yang was born. In 1977, while gathering food in the jungle, a tree fell on him. In the years that followed, when Yang felt a certain pain on his right side, he thought it was because of the old injury.

Mus kuaj kev mob. Nws yuav lig dhau lawm yog hais tias koj tsis paub tus mob ntawd. Mus saib tus kws kho mob yog xav tau kev pab.

Get tested. You might not know you’re sick until it’s too late. Seek a professional or family doctor for help.
Chia Yang

2 out of every 3

Asian Americans

with hepatitis B

don’t know they are


All the while, a virus was damaging his liver. A doctor in America diagnosed hepatitis B, an often fatal liver infection. A vaccine can prevent the condition, but when Yang was growing up in Laos, the vaccine was unavailable.

Even today in some parts of the world, particularly East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, many people remain unvaccinated. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 240 million people are infected with the hepatitis B virus. In the United States, one in 12 Asian Americans are infected with the virus.

Family pictures
Decorated table
Older man holding grandson


“In Hmong culture, a lot of people seek health care when they feel ill or feel pain,” said Dr. Ncha Xiong, a physician at NorthPoint Health & Wellness, a Hennepin County clinic in Minneapolis. “But since hepatitis B is often a silent disease in its early stages, people feel there’s no need to come and get checked for it.”

Yang was fortunate to seek medical care when he did. Doctors developed a treatment plan which led to a liver transplant at the Mayo Clinic. Today, he’s active in the community and sells produce with his wife at the Minneapolis Farmers Market.

This father of 10, grandfather of 25 and great-grandfather of three children also serves as the spiritual leader for his family. But when the topic turns to the body, he offers clear words of advice:

“Yog peb muaj mob no, thov kom peb cov Hmoob mus ntsib dov tawj,” Yang states. English translation: “If we as Hmong people are sick, we should go see a doctor.”

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