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Asian Americans and Hepatitis B

May is Hepatitis Awareness Month and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

May is Hepatitis Awareness Month and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This year, CDC's Division of Viral Hepatitis is focusing on raising awareness about hepatitis B among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) and encouraging AAPIs to talk to their doctors about getting tested for hepatitis B.

What should AAPIs know about Hepatitis B?

Photo: Family sitting on park benchHepatitis B affects 1 in 12 Asians Americans and Pacific Islanders

Hepatitis B is common in many parts of the world, with an estimated 350 million people living with the disease worldwide. In the US, an estimated 1.2 million Americans are infected. However, hepatitis B disproportionately affects Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders because it is especially common in many Asian and Pacific Island countries. While AAPIs make up less than 5% of the total U.S. population, they account for more than 50% of Americans living with chronic hepatitis B.

Hepatitis B is serious

If left untreated, up to 25 percent of people with hepatitis B develop serious liver problems such as cirrhosis and even liver cancer. In the US, chronic hepatitis B infection results in thousands of deaths per year. Liver cancer caused by the hepatitis B virus is a leading cause of cancer deaths among Asian Americans.

As many as 2 in 3 Asian Americans with hepatitis B don't know they are infected

People can live with hepatitis B without having any symptoms or feeling sick. Many people with chronic hepatitis B got infected as infants or young children. It is usually spread when someone comes into contact with blood from someone who has the virus. As many as 2 in 3 AAPIs living with the virus do not know they are infected. Often, people do not know they have hepatitis B until they have been tested.

Who should get tested for Hepatitis B?

  • Anyone born in Asia or the Pacific Islands (except New Zealand and Australia)
  • Anyone born in the United States, who was not vaccinated at birth, and has at least one parent born in East or Southeast Asia (except Japan) or the Pacific Islands (except New Zealand and Australia)

Hepatitis B testing identifies people living with chronic hepatitis B so they can get medical care to help prevent serious liver damage. Testing also helps to find other people who may not have hepatitis B, but are at risk for getting infected. This can include people living with someone with hepatitis B.

For more information, talk to a doctor about getting tested for Hepatitis B.

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