Published online Nov 14, 2015. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v21.i42.11924
Peer-review started: May 6, 2015
First decision: June 2, 2015
Revised: June 18, 2015
Accepted: August 31, 2015
Article in press: August 31, 2015
Published online: November 14, 2015
After tobacco use, chronic hepatitis B (CHB) viral infections are the most important cause of cancer globally in that 1 out of 3 individuals have been infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Though infection rates are low (< 1%) in the United States, Asian Americans who comprise about 6% of the population experience about 60% of the CHB burden. This paper reviews the magnitude of hepatitis B (HBV) burden among Asian Americans and the progress being made to mitigate this burden, primarily through localized, community-based efforts to increase screening and vaccination among Asian American children, adolescents, and adults. This review brings to light that despite the numerous community-based screening efforts, a vast majority of Asian Americans have not been screened and that vaccination efforts, particularly for adults, are sub-optimal. Greater efforts to integrate screenings by providers within existing healthcare systems are urged. Evidence-based strategies are offered to implement CDC’s three major recommendations to control and prevent hepatitis B through targeted screening and enhanced vaccination efforts.
Core tip: Hepatitis B viral infections disproportionately affect Asian Americans. Untreated, hepatitis B viral infections can lead to hepatocellular carcinoma that is almost universally fatal. Unfortunately, a vast majority of Asian Americans have not been screened. To reduce the HBV burden, screening both in community and clinical settings must be accelerated; and both physicians and patients must see the need for testing. Based on test results, those who screen positive must be referred to appropriate care and those without natural immunity, recommended for vaccination.