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Why Asians and Pacific Islanders?
Hepatitis B is a major health disparity for Asian Americans. The CDC estimates that at least half of individuals infected with hepatitis B in the U.S. are of Asian or Pacific Islander descent (Read the report here). In December 2007, the WHO released the Western Paciic Regional Plan for Hepatitis B Control which outlines the burden of hepatitis B in Asian countries, as well as goals and strategies to eliminate the disparity.
B Free CEED partner, the Asian American Hepatitis B Program, found that roughly 15% of Asians screened in New York City were infected with hepatitis B (Read the MMWR article here). This is a huge disparity considering that less than 1% of the general U.S. population has hepatitis B. AAHBP also found that all of those identified as infected were foreign-born and from countries where hepatitis B is endemic with rates as high as 16%.
However, the prevalence and infection rates for individual Asian ethnic groups across the U.S. can vary and limited information exists. The B Free CEED is currently working on compiling and disseminating past and current data on HBV infection for all Asian ethnic groups.