HomeAsian AmericansAsians disproportionately impacted by hepatitis B, calls for testing

Asians disproportionately impacted by hepatitis B, calls for testing

Asian American communities are disproportionately impacted by hepatitis B, leading to calls from healthcare officials for testing. 

Although Asian Americans only make up around 7% of the U.S. population, 58% of the 580,000 to 1.17 million people who have the virus are Asian, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NBC News reported. 

With May being National Hepatitis Awareness Month as well as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, healthcare officials remind the community of the importance for getting tested and potentially vaccinated. 

“It’s really important that we remind people that testing is the only way that someone with Hepatitis B can know that they’re infected,” Neil Gupta, a hepatitis B expert with the CDC, told NBC News. “And it’s important that we share this message in communities that are disproportionately impacted by Hepatitis B, including Asian American Pacific Islander communities.”

In the U.S., three-quarters of the hepatitis B cases are immigrants, noting that many countries in Asia and the Indo-Pacific experience higher rates, including Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines and Vietnam, according to the World Health Organization. 

Gupta told NBC News that hepatitis B is a “silent killer” since many people do not experience immediate symptoms. He said the disease can be transmitted through sexual intercourse, shared needles and other contact with blood. 

“We estimate that about 1 in 3 Asian Americans who have hepatitis B in the United States don’t know that they have it,” said Gupta, NBC News reported. “So one of the most important things we need to do is remind people that all adults should be tested at least once in their lifetime.” 

While Asian Americans have the highest percentage of hepatitis B vaccination, Healthline noted, vaccination continues to play an integral role in limiting the spread the disease. 

“It’s important to recognize that people need to hear your messages in ways that are culturally appropriate,” Gupta told NBC News. “We’ve seen successful intervention brought to communities into their neighborhoods addressing and meeting people where they are so that they feel comfortable.”

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.

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