Programs Overview
Cancer Program
Hepatitis B Program
Tobacco Control

Background | Outreach | Hepatitis B Program | Hepatitis B Facts | Hepatitis B Resources


Hepatitis B is one of the largest health threats for Asians.  While Asian Americans represent only 4% of the U.S. population, over half of the 1.3 to 1.5 million known Hepatitis B carriers in the U.S. are Asian Americans.  Without treatment or monitoring, 1 in 4 of those infected with Hepatitis B will die from liver cancer or liver failure.  According to the national statistics, Asian Americans are, on average, 3 times more likely to develop liver cancer caused by Hepatitis B than Caucasians. When compared with Caucasians, Vietnamese-Americans are 13 times more likely to contract Hepatitis B. Chinese-Americans are 8 times more likely to contract the disease, and Korean-Americans are 6 times more likely to become infected.   At the local level, according to the needs assessment conducted by University of Maryland as part of the AAHI’s FY05 project, at least four Asian communalities expressed particular concern for Hepatitis B in their community.  Therefore, in order to address this particular health disparity among Asian communities, the AAHI has been working to develop a Hepatitis B program.


The mission of the Hepatitis B program is to increase awareness and knowledge about Hepatitis B among Asian Americans and to improve the access of the Asian American community to Hepatitis B preventative measures.  These education sessions will be delivered in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner with the use of PowerPoint presentations and brochures in different Asian languages; and in collaboration with many diverse Asian American Community-Based Organizations and Faith-Based Organizations in the County.  It will be provided to the community at health fairs, faith-based services, community events, etc.  The AAHI will also collaborate with other Hepatitis B advocate groups to enhance its outreach efforts.  In addition, education and awareness will be provided to health care professionals in order to advocate for improved health care procedures and polices on Hepatitis B prevention. A media campaign has also been implemented to spread awareness about the dangers of Hepatitis B within the Asian American community and the preventative measures that are available. The campaign utilized various Asian ethnic newspapers, flyers, and posters to reach a wide range of community members.

Hepatitis B Program

On May 15, 2008, AAHI hosted its first educational dinner for health care providers. This dinner program was held during the month of May to coincide with both Asian Pacific American Heritage month and Hepatitis Awareness month. The topic of the presentation was "Optimizing Hepatitis B Care within the Asian Community." Participants who attended this program were able to earn continuing education credits from Rush University Medical Center, University of Florida College of Pharmacy, the University of South Florida College of Nursing, or the Commission for Case Manager Certification. The course was taught by Dr. Natarajan Ravendran, who is the Chief of Gastroenterology & Liver Disease at St. Agnes Hospital and the Medical Director of Clinical Research at Digestive Disease Associates in Baltimore, Maryland. The dinner was attended by a total of 18 participants including practicing physicians, nurses, pharmacists, hepatitis B outreach workers, and AAHI staff. Overall, the program was very informative and received positive feedback from all participants. This is a step forward in educating health care providers about the unique risks of Hepatitis B in the Asian American population.

What You Should Know

What is Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is an infectious liver disease caused by a Hepatitis B virus (HBV). HBV is a virus that causes inflammation of the liver. It can cause liver cell damage, leading to cirrhosis and cancer.

How is Hepatitis B diagnosed?

The most common symptoms of Hepatitis B occur within 25-180 days following exposure and include: loss of appetite, joint pain, fever, jaundice, nausea and vomiting. However, it is important to note that an estimated 40% of people infected with Hepatitis B have no symptoms and do not know how or when the infection occurred. Only a blood test can tell for sure if you have Hepatitis B or not.

How is Hepatitis B transmitted?

  • Blood transfusions and through contact with the blood of an infected person
  • From an infected mother to her new born during childbirth (most common mode of transmission among Asian Americans)
  • Sharing personal items such as razors, towels, toothbrushes, or nail clippers that might have infected blood or other body fluids on them
  • An infected person pre-chewing food for a baby
  • Sharing infected needles
  • Unprotected sex with an infected person

Hepatitis B virus is NOT transmitted through:

  • Sneezing or coughing
  • Kissing or hugging
  • Breast feeding
  • Sharing food or water
  • Casual contact (such as an office setting)
  • Sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses

How can I protect myself?

Consult your health care provider about getting tested for Hepatitis B.  Often, these tests are not included as part of your routine physical examination and blood tests.  If your blood tests are negative, it is strongly advised that you get the 3-dose hepatitis B vaccine to protect yourself from future infection and the risk of liver cancer.  All newborns should receive the Hepatitis B vaccine at birth.


For additional information please contact the AAHI or visit the following sites:

American Liver Foundation

The Asian Liver Center at Stanford University

Center of Disease Control and Prevention Division of Viral Hepatitis

Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies AAP Hepatitis B Task Force

The Hepatitis B Foundation

Hepatitis B Initiative