Asian-Americans and hepatitis B

Last week, I had read in The San Francisco Chronicle California State Assembly Member Fiona Ma’s article on “Killers Among Us – San Francisco – help us make it hep B free now” and learned quite a bit about the virus:

“…as a California official, an Asian American and a person living with chronic Hepatitis B. May is Hepatitis B awareness month, shining the light on a condition that affects 2 million Americans. Chronic hepatitis B is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus, a pathogen that is up to 100 times more easily transmitted than HIV. The disease is often called a “silent killer” because it can cause liver cancer, cirrhosis or liver failure without producing symptoms. This may be one reason the Bay Area has the highest liver cancer rate in the nation. As many as 1 in 10 Asian/Pacific Islanders in America, particularly those from China, Korea and Vietnam, are chronically infected with HBV. This disproportionate impact reflects the high prevalence of the disease in Asia, where HBV immunization is not yet standard practice. My own experience is typical: I contracted Hepatitis B at birth from my mother, who was born in China, but didn’t discover this until I tried to give blood at the age of 22.”

I think all of us have heard of hepatitis B, but until reading this article, I didn’t realize exactly what it was or how the Asian American community is disproportionately likely to have the virus, and contract a hepatitis B-related disease. Ma discusses the “San Francisco Hep B Free” – a city wide campaign to be the “First city in the U.S. to test and vaccinate all Asian and Pacific Islanders for hepatitis B.” If you are an Asian American or Pacific Islander, you can get a free hepatitis B testing and vaccination for free in San Francisco.

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About John

I'm a Taiwanese-American and was born & raised in Western Massachusetts, went to college in upstate New York, worked in Connecticut, went to grad school in North Carolina and then moved out to the Bay Area in 1999 and have been living here ever since - love the weather and almost everything about the area (except the high cost of housing...)
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