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1 in 10 Asian Americans Is Infected by Hepatitis B, the Leading Cause of Liver Cancer
California Assemblywoman Fiona Ma Takes Personal Fight Against Hepatitis B National
San Francisco, Calif. (May 3, 2010) – Recent data released from the National Cancer Institute confirms that San Francisco has the highest rate of liver cancer in the nation. The leading cause of liver cancer is hepatitis B.
May 2010 marks the 15th Anniversary of National Hepatitis B Awareness Month. The San Francisco Hep B Free initiative is launching "Which One Deserves To Die?" a provocative ad campaign alerting the Asian American community that 1 in 10 Asian Americans is chronically infected with hepatitis B compared to 1 in 1,000 in the general population.
San Francisco Hep B Free is a unique collaboration of over 50 private and public organizations, including the Asian Liver Center at Stanford University and Brown & Toland Physicians, whose common goal is to turn San Francisco into the first hepatitis B-free city in the nation. Since its inception, San Francisco Hep B Free has tested thousands of people for hepatitis B. The campaign’s success rate has inspired other cities and counties to follow its model, including Los Angeles, Orange County, Santa Clara, Alameda, Long Beach, San Mateo, Philadelphia, and Washington DC.
Championing the fight against hepatitis B is California Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (D-SF), who along with members of her family has chronic hepatitis B. Her health crisis propelled her to take action with San Francisco Hep B Free and raise public awareness on the impact of the deadly virus. Since joining the campaign, Assemblywoman Ma helped launch a groundbreaking screening and vaccination initiative in San Francisco. She is working on a state bill calling for preventative hepatitis B 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)
• Worldwide, 350 to 400 million people have hepatitis B. 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 over 43,000 new hepatitis B cases in the U.S. 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 birth. 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.
About San Francisco Hep B Free
San Francisco Hep B Free is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between city government, private healthcare community organizations and businesses. The campaign’s goal is to make San Francisco hepatitis B-free by (1) creating public and healthcare provider awareness about the importance of testing & vaccinating Asian and Pacific Islanders for hepatitis B; (2) promoting routine hepatitis B screenings and vaccinations within the primary care medical community; and (3) facilitating access to treatment for chronically infected individuals. For more info, please go to www.sfhepbfree.org.