Information drive on hepatitis B aimed at Asian-Americans

The Obama administration has started an intensive information drive to discuss the risks, treatment and prevention of Hepatitis B among Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Rozita Lee, one of the commissioners in the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs, said that group is coordinating with local groups in various cities for the campaign, Asian Journal reports.

“We really want to make sure AAPIs are aware of this disease,” Lee said, according to Asian Journal. “This is one of the priorities that we are working on because of the prevalence of the disease among AAPIs.”

According to Dr. Noel Fajardo, there are 300 to 400 million people infected and one person is estimated to die from the disease every 45 seconds. The Philippines is in a high endemic region and the risk in the community is particularly high.

“The virulence of Hepatitis B, it is 100 times more infectious than HIV," Fajardo said, according to Asian Journal. "It’s related to viral load. If you have the virus in you, you can pass it on. In the [Filipino] community, it is usually transmitted vertically, meaning from the mother to child during childbirth.”

Hepatitis B is an infectious disease caused by a virus that infects the liver and can cause inflammation and jaundice. The disease can eventually cause liver cirrhosis and liver cancer if it goes untreated. Screening for Hepatitis B is highly recommended.

“We need to understand the urgency as to why this is a healthcare crisis," Fajardo said. "We’ve reached certain achievements over the past months but we want to do more. One thing peculiar to (the Filipino) community is we as a group is not interested in lining up to have our blood drawn.  We’re very educated, sophisticated and private.”