Sophomore Meredith Fenyo posted a picture on Instagram and spoke to the sophomore class during class meeting to raise awareness for the Join Jade organization that works to combat Hepatitis B. Photo courtesy of Meredith Fenyo.
By Brooke Hodge
Sophomore Meredith Fenyo introduced the “Join Jade” organization and her “Post-It” social media project to Menlo during sophomore class meeting on Mar. 13 in order to raise awareness about Hepatitis B. Join Jade is an organization founded by the Asian Liver Center and a part of the Stanford Medical Center, working to end stigma relating to Hepatitis B in order to save suffering individuals.
Fenyo started working with the organization in Sept. 2017. “I am a huge fan of biomedicine, so I was looking for internships and found the ALC,” Fenyo said.
Fenyo’s motivation in aiding those living with Hepatitis B expanded when someone close to her fell ill a month after working with Join Jade. “It really struck me that I could actually do something to help—maybe not with the person I love but with those around me. So, I created this social media project to decrease Hep B stigma and help prevent liver cancer in the Silicon Valley and beyond,” she said.
Fenyo is working on a social media platform called the “Post-It Project” that will work towards destigmatizing Hepatitis B and connecting victims with treatment. “When people tell others they have Hepatitis B, people refuse to shake their hands or work or play on teams with them, believing that through casual contact, the virus will be transmitted. That they could ‘catch it.’ That is absolutely not true or even possible, but society doesn’t know that,” Fenyo said. “As a direct result of this stigma, individuals may be afraid to tell others they have Hep B, or even share their courageous stories. People avoid diagnostic testing, avoid treatment, and fear disclosing their status with family members and colleagues, ultimately leading to worsening health outcomes.”
The project encourages individuals to use their social media accounts to post pictures of themselves and a jade-colored post-it note answering the question: “What is one of your fears?”. Fenyo and the Join-Jade organization hope that this project will create an environment where fears can be confronted and desigmatized.
Fenyo says that a large issue regarding Hepatitis B is the lack of awareness about the vaccine (that can save victims in early stages). “The main focus of this post-it project is to link people with Hep B to care and treatment as soon as possible—that can prevent cancer,” she said
This project is specifically relevant to the Menlo community because the large prevalence of chronic Hepatitis B is in the Silicon Valley. “Hep B causes 60-80 percent of liver cancer cases in the Silicon Valley,” Fenyo said.
Some sophomores who watched her presentation were inspired by her mission. “I was super moved by Meredith’s presentation. I think that it was important to talk about and be comfortable with the uncomfortable,” sophomore Sophie Golub said.