What is Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease that results from infection by the Hepatitis B virus. It can range in severity from being a mild ailment lasting a few weeks to a serious, even life threatening, lifelong illness. Although, with proper treatment, can be managed.

Who gets Hepatitis B?

While anyone can get Hepatitis B, Asian and Pacific Islanders (APIs) account for more than 50% of Americans with chronic Hepatitis B. Though there are several ways through which Hepatitis B infections can occur, most APIs with Hepatitis B in the US were infected as infants or young children.

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How do people get Hepatitis B?

The hepatitis B virus is transmitted through blood and infected body fluids. Transmission can occur through:

Direct blood to blood contact

Unprotected sex

Use of unsterile needles

From an infected mother to her newborn child through the delivery process

What does Hepatitis B do?

While most healthy adults recover and develop antibodies to the hepatitis B virus, long term infection can lead to serious and debilitating liver damage including cirrhosis, cancer and even death.

Why should I be concerned about Hepatitis B?

Approximately 1 in 12 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (APIs) are living with chronic Hepatitis B, but most do not know it. Hepatitis B-related liver cancer incidence is highest among APIs. It is a leading cause of cancer deaths in this population. The death rate from Hepatitis B among APIs is 7 times greater than rates among whites.

How do I find out if I or a loved one has Hepatitis B?

A person can have the virus and not have any visible symptoms, or have symptoms so mild they are often overlooked. The only sure way to know if you have Hepatitis B is to have a blood test that specifically checks for the virus. Because even many doctors only see the virus as being a problem in other countries are unaware of the serious threat posed by Hepatitis B you may have to insist on specific screening for it.

If I have Hepatitis B, what can/should I do?

If, after careful screening it is determined that you are indeed infected, see your doctor promptly. He or she would be the best source of advice and treatment.

Is there a cure for Hepatitis B?

While Hepatitis B cannot be cured, it can be successfully treated. Medical treatment and a proper lifestyle can help someone with the virus live an otherwise full, healthy life.

HBI-DC is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Our organization’s mission is to mobilize communities to prevent liver diseases caused by viral hepatitis among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, African immigrants, and other high-risk groups.

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