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Alan Franciscus
Editor-in-Chief
HCV Advocate
HBV Advocate

Friday, January 25, 2013

Clinics reach out to Oakland’s Asian community to prevent “silent killer” hepatitis B

The Bay Area has one of the largest Asian and Asian Pacific Islander (API) populations in the entire country; together the two groups make up almost 19 percent of Oakland’s population. This group is uniquely at risk for hepatitis B, a disease that is sometimes known as the “silent killer,” as an infected person can remain asymptomatic for long periods of time, leaving many unknowingly infected. Nationwide, nearly 1 in 12 people of Asian and API descent are infected. But here in Oakland, healthcare workers are drawing more attention to getting residents screened for the disease and vaccinated against it, specifically among the low-income and uninsured.

Hepatitis B, which is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV), is transmitted through blood and during childbirth. It ultimately leads to cirrhosis or liver cancer, and nearly 600,000 people worldwide die each year from the disease. In the United States, liver cancer resulting from chronic hep B is the second cause of cancer death among Asian men.

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