Hepatitis B is the world’s most common serious liver infection and is a leading cause of liver cancer among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, but most people with hepatitis B don’t know they are infected. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders make up only about 6% of the total U.S.
What is hepatitis?
Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. When the liver is inflamed or damaged, its function can be affected. Heavy alcohol use, toxins, some medications, and certain medical conditions can all cause hepatitis. However, hepatitis is often caused by a virus. In the United States, the most common hepatitis viruses are hepatitis A virus, hepatitis B virus, and hepatitis C virus.
Why do Asian Americans have such high rates of hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is very common in many parts of the world, including Asia. An estimated 240 million people are living with hepatitis B. Because hepatitis B is so common, it is easy for many people born in Asia to come into contact with the hepatitis B virus. Although anyone can get hepatitis B, some people are at greater risk, such as those who live with a person who has hepatitis B or are born to infected mothers.
Can hepatitis B be prevented?
Yes. The best way to prevent hepatitis B is by getting vaccinated. Completing the series of shots (2, 3, or 4 doses, depending on the manufacturer) is needed to be fully protected.
Is the hepatitis B vaccine safe?
Yes. The hepatitis B vaccine is safe, and soreness at the injection site is the most common side effect. As with any medicine, there are very small risks that a serious problem could occur after getting the vaccine. The safety of vaccines is always being monitored. For more information, visit CDC’s vaccine safety site.
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and Chronic Hepatitis B
- Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) make up 5% of the total population in the United States, but account for more than 50% of 862,000 Americans living with chronic hepatitis B.
- The burden of chronic hepatitis B in the US is greater among people born in regions of the world with high or moderate prevalence of chronic hepatitis B, including much of Asia and the Pacific Islands.
- Nearly 70% of Asian Americans are foreign-born and estimates have found that approximately 58% of foreign-born people with chronic hepatitis B are from Asia
- Left untreated, approximately 15% to 25% of those with chronic hepatitis B infection develop serious liver disease, including cirrhosis, liver damage, and even liver cancer.
- Hepatitis B Patient Education Resources
- CDC’s Know Hepatitis B campaign targeting AAPIs to get tested for hepatitis B
Information from the CDC website