About Hep B

Hepatitis B is a disease that is caused by the Hepatitis B virus. It is often called the “silent killer” because it is asymptomatic. Thus, people with the disease often do not feel or see any symptoms, making it even more important to be screened and vaccinated. Hepatitis B has become a global epidemic and is much more prevalent in the API community. APIs are 100 times more likely to be infected with Hepatitis B compared to the rest of the population. If untreated, Hepatitis B can result in liver cancer, which is the second leading cause of death for API men. Statiscally in California alone, liver cancer is the number one leading cause of cancer deaths among Laotian American men, the 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths among Cambodian and Vietnamese men, the 4th leading cause of cancer deaths among Chinese and Korean men, and the 5th leading cause of deaths among Filipino men.

HBV is transmitted through infected blood from mother to child at time of birth, contact with infected blood and unprotected sex. Mother-to-child transmission is the most common for APIs. Also, because this virus is highly contagious, even sharing of razors and toothbrushes can cause transmission if infected blood contacts an open wound.

Although most infected do not show any symptoms, 30% of those acutely infected develop symptoms, such as jaundice, fatigue, abdominal pain and loss of appetite.

The Next Step
1. Get screened and tested for Hepatitis B. Please refer to vaccination and screening page for more information.
2. Get vaccinated. The vaccination process includes 3 shots. All newborn babies are highly recommended to get the vaccination.
3. Get treated. Please note that not everyone needs treatment. Contact a doctor for further treatment if necessary. Chronic patients can lead normal lives but need to be aware of a few precautions to avoid liver cancer.
     – Get the hepatitis A vaccine.
     – Avoid drinking alcohol.
     – Do not share toothbrushes, razors, injection or tattoo needles to avoid transmitting Hep B to others because they may be tainted with blood.
    – Ensure that all members of your household are tested and vaccinated if they are not already immunized.
    – If you are uncertain whether your partner is protected, the proper use of latex condoms is recommended.
    – Pregnant women infected with hepatitis B must make sure the newborn receives hepatitis B immunoglobulin (HBIG) plus the first dose of the hepatitis B vaccine at birth, and then follow-up with the second dose at 1-2 months, and the third dose at 6 months. This will be 97% effective in protecting the newborn from becoming a carrier.

All data from SF Hep B Free website.

%d bloggers like this: