CDC: Asian, African Immigrants Should Be Tested For Hepatitis B

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According to new guidelines CDC officials made public on Thursday, people born in either Asia or Africa who currently live in the U.S. should be tested for hepatitis B, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Other "at-risk" groups, such as injection drug users and men who have sex with men, also should be tested, the guidelines say. The announcement was made during a news conference at the San Francisco-based Chinatown Public Health Center.

While previous guidelines have focused on screening and testing, the new guidelines focus on treatment, education and the long-term care of those with the disease, the Chronicle reports.

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San Francisco is a "gateway for immigrants from China and other Asian countries" that have a high hepatitis B prevalence, and the city also has the nation's highest rate of liver cancer, according to the Chronicle. The disease affects an estimated 25,000 Asian-Americans/Pacific Islanders in the city. Nationwide, one in 12 Asian-Americans/Pacific Islanders has hepatitis B, according to CDC. The city also was chosen in part because of the success of a hepatitis B awareness campaign, which has vaccinated 4,000 residents since April 2007.

State Assembly member Fiona Ma (D), who was diagnosed with hepatitis B at age 22, said, "Our culture is not to talk about disease. People should not keep this a secret," adding, "I was walking around for 20 years not knowing what to do about my own health. I have a one in four probability of developing liver cancer. I'm hopeful that the disease won't affect me in my lifetime" (Fernandez, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/19).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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