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1. What is Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is a disease caused by infection with the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Chronic (lifelong) infection with HBV can lead to liver cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer. About 60-80% of primary liver cancer worldwide is caused by chronic HBV infection. HBV is found in highest concentrations in blood (as high as 10 billion viruses per mL); concentrations 10 to 100 times lower are found in semen and vaginal fluid.








2. What should I do?

  • Get tested: Ask your doctor for the hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and surface antibody (anti-HBs) tests for both yourself and your family. These are not included in routine physical examination blood tests and must be requested. If you are pregnant, ask your doctor for the HBsAg test to see whether you are infected with hepatitis B.
  • Get vaccinated: If both your blood tests (HBsAg and anti-HBs) are negative, you have not been infected with hepatitis B. Get the 3-shot hepatitis B vaccination series to protect yourself for life from future infection. All newborns should receive the hepatitis B vaccine at birth.
  • Get involved: To learn about hepatitis B, join the Jade Ribbon Campaign. Spread the word about our campaign by telling your friends and family. Proudly wear your Jade Ribbon pin and bracelet in demonstration of your support.









3. Why should Asian and Pacific Islanders care about Hepatitis B?

Despite the fact that only 0.2-0.5% of the U.S. population has chronic hepatitis B infection, this is still 1.25 million people, over half of whom are Asian and Pacific Islander (API) Americans. Depending on their country of origin, 5-15% of API immigrants have chronic hepatitis B. In some Pacific Rim countries, as many as 10-20% of the population are chronically infected.







5. What are some common myths and misconceptions about Hepatitis B?

    • Hepatitis B is NOT transmitted through food/water.
    • Hepatitis B is NOT transmitted through casual contact such as hugging or shaking hands.
    • Hepatitis B is NOT transmitted through kissing, sneezing or coughing.
    • Hepatitis B is NOT transmitted through breastfeeding.








5. How is Hepatitis B transmitted ?


  • Although hepatitis B can be transmitted by blood transfusions, sharing or reusing needles for injection or tattoos, and unprotected sex, many APIs become infected when they are infants or young children.
  • Hepatitis B can also be transmitted during early childhood through direct contact with blood of infected individuals, occurring from contact between open wounds, sharing contaminated toothbrushes or razors, or through contaminated medical/dental tools.
  • Hepatitis B is not spread by air, food, water, breastfeeding, casual contact in an office setting, kissing, hugging, coughing, sneezing, or sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses.
  • Child-to-child spread most likely happens as a result of contact with skin sores, small breaks in the skin, or mucous membranes with blood. Spread within the household from sharing toothbrushes or razors may also occur because HBV can survive for at least 7 days outside the body.
  • Frequently, transmission of HBV occurs during the birthing process when the virus is passed on from the infected mother (who is often unaware that she has chronic hepatitis B) to her child.





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