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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

1 in 10 Asian Americans Is Infected By Hepatitis B

Article published on Asiance Magazine, April 28, 2010

Recent data released from the National Cancer Institute confirms that San Francisco has the highest rate of liver cancer in the nation. It is the gateway for immigrants from Asian countries where there is a high prevalence of hepatitis B. San Francisco Hep B Free is a unique collaboration of over 50 private and public organizations whose goal is to turn San Francisco into the first hepatitis B free city nationwide.

For the 15th Anniversary of National Hepatitis Awareness Month in May, SF Hep B Free will launch "Which One Deserves To Die?" a provocative ad campaign alerting the public that 1 in 10 Asian Americans is chronically infected with hepatitis B compared to 1 in 1,000 in the general population. Hepatitis B infection causes up to 80 percent of liver cancers worldwide.

Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (D-SF) has chronic hepatitis B, known in the health community as a "silent killer." Her experience propelled her to work with San Francisco Hep B Free, and since joining the campaign, Assemblywoman Ma has authored groundbreaking legislation in California for residents to get screened and vaccinated. She is working on health care policy reform and a bill calling for preventative care and vaccination. "As a Chinese-American, I have been the legislature's leading advocate to eliminate hepatitis B. The cause has special meaning to me because I live with chronic hepatitis B, a disease that affects 2 million Americans," said Assemblywoman Ma.

Hepatitis B Disease Background (source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

•Approximately 350 to 400 million people worldwide have hepatitis B, and many do not know they are infected. Hepatitis B silently attacks the liver and is the leading cause of liver cancer, one of the most lethal, expensive and fastest growing cancers in America.
•There are more than 43,000 new hepatitis B cases in United States each year, with the greatest incidence among adults between ages 19-49 years old.
•Hepatitis B is one of the leading health disparities between Asians and non-Hispanic whites.
•Among the Asian population the predominant mode of transmission is from infected mother to child during the birthing process. Hepatitis B can also be spread through unprotected sex and shared needles.
•There is a safe and effective vaccine to prevent infection from hepatitis B.

For more info, please go to www.sfhepbfree.org

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