The San Francisco Health Commission Oct. 20 unanimously voted to support a campaign to unmask the countless hidden cases of diabetes among Asian Americans.

The vote was held at the San Francisco Department of Health.

“Screen at 23,” organized by the National Council of Asian Pacific Islander Physicians in partnership with the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Diabetes Coalition, has a goal to screen Asian Americans with a body mass index of 23 for type 2 diabetes.

“Diabetes happens in Asian Americans at a body mass index of 23,” NCAPIP president and CEO Dr. Ho Luong Tran, who also coordinates the AANHPI Diabetes Coalition, said in a statement. “We are different, and ‘Screen at 23’ is a result of years of collaborative work to demonstrate that we need different screening guidelines.”

The American Diabetes Association adopted a BMI of 23 as a risk factor to consider for diabetes testing among Asian Americans in January. According to the ADA, it has focused on diabetes among minorities through the Diabetes Disparities Action Councils. When the AANHPI Diabetes Coalition formed in 2011, those ADA efforts increased.

"The most recent data from the National Institutes of Health showed that over half of all Asian Americans with diabetes are undiagnosed, and this reinforces the need for ‘Screen at 23’," Dr. Edward Chow, co-chair of the AANHPI Diabetes Coalition, said. "Our Coalition members and partners are poised to spread this message far and wide, but it will really depend on the public, health plans and physicians to act on it."

With the passing vote, San Francisco became the first city and county to encourage the adoption of screening guidelines throughout its citywide healthcare system. It also encourages its use across private and public healthcare settings.

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