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Alan Franciscus
HCV Advocate

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Raising Awareness of Hepatitis B In the Asian and Pacific Islander Communities

This month we are observing both Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Hepatitis Awareness Month. The dual observances are an important opportunity to bring attention to the disproportionate burden of viral hepatitis among the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in the United States and to renew our commitment and call to action to address this disparity.

Hepatitis Awareness Month 

Viral Hepatitis Disparities in the Asian American and Pacific Islander Communities
Liver cancer and other liver problems caused by viral hepatitis (for example, cirrhosis) affect some U.S. populations more than others, resulting in substantial health disparities. This is especially true for Asian and Pacific Islanders Americans (APIs). In fact, an estimated 1 in 12 APIs are living with chronic hepatitis B. So, although Asian/Pacific Islander Americans make up only some 5 percent of the total U.S. population, they represent 50 percent of the estimated 800,000—1.4 million persons who are infected with hepatitis B in the United States. These health disparities are further reflected in viral hepatitis–associated illness and death. For example, liver cancer incidence is highest among the API population. Despite these high rates, many APIs are not tested for hepatitis B, thus remaining unaware of their infection and not accessing lifesaving medical care and appropriate treatment. Read more about this health disparity and what can be done at CDC’s Viral Hepatitis and APIs page.

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