It is estimated that 1.2 million, or 1 in 10, Asian Americans are chronically infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV). The disproportional prevalence of chronic hepatitis B among Asian Americans (10% in comparison to <0.5% for average Americans) is one of the greatest health disparities for Asian Americans (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2005).


Chronic hepatitis B patients without early detection and proper medical attention will face a 25% risk of death from cirrhosis or liver cancer. Liver cancer is the second leading cancer death among Asian American men. Hepatitis B is also the leading cause of liver cancer among Asian Americans.


Many people with chronic HBV infection do not have symptoms and therefore are not aware that they have the disease. Because there are simple tests for hepatitis B, treatments that can help patients get the disease under control, and vaccines that can protect un-infected people, the damage from hepatitis B can easily be reduced. It is surprising that so many Asian Americans still do not know about the disease and its consequences. Do you know if you are a hepatitis B patient?

HBV Program at Asian center – SE MI


The goals of Asian Center – Southeast Michigan HBV study are: 1) to determine the prevalence of chronic HBV (hepatitis B virus) infection among Asian Americans in Michigan; 2) to bring awareness of this serious health threat to Asian Americans; and 3) to help control (treatment) and reduce (vaccination) the disease in Michigan.


Free HBV screening was offered at health fairs since 2006 to Asian Americans from Grand Rapids to Detroit in southern Michigan. Test results from 2006 to 2008 showed 6% of Asian Americans in Michigan were hepatitis B surface antigen positive indicating infection, 54% hepatitis B surface antibody positive indicating immunity and 40% negative on both markers indicating no prior exposure. This result has remained pretty much the same without much fluctuation.


In 2010, free vaccines were offered to those who were qualified; i.e., a test report within 2 years showing negative on both surface antigen and surface antibody. There were about 40% of those who were qualified actually took the advantage to get vaccinated. This taught us education of HBV is still needed to encourage people get protected. This free vaccination program has already ended at the end of 2011 after CDC stopped supplying Twinrix.


In 2011, a patient treatment assistance and follow-up program was initiated for all patients tested under our screening, or with a test report within 2 years from a legitimate biomedical lab. This program was collaborated between AC-SE MI and the United Asian American Medical Students Association at University of Michigan. After AC-SE MI will make the first call to a confirmed patient, and provide a liver comprehensive test to a contracted biomedical lab. After this test report is available, a student from UAAMSA will take over by setting up an appointment with either Dr. Lok at UMHS (for Washtenaw county patients) or Dr. Gordon at Henry Ford hospital (for metro Detroit patients), and follow-up with the patient if there is any need for detail explanation medically or insurance needs. This program has accepted closely to a dozen of patients.

Open Clinics for HBV Test (FREE)


If you do not know whether you are a hepatitis B patient, please come to our open clinic to find out. On the first Saturday of every month between 10 am to 12 pm, we will provide free HBV tests to all Asian Americans. You don’t have to be an immigrant or citizen to get this service, all are welcome whether you have health insurance or not. And if you have never been infected, we will give you free HBV vaccines after confirmed from the test. Do yourself a favor and get tested, and spread the words to all your family and friends.


Past Hepatitis B Study in Michigan


Our Center Director, Dr. Janilla Lee, initiated a hepatitis B prevalence study in 2006 when she was at the Healthy Asian Americans Projects at the University of Michigan, School of Nursing, with the support of Dr. Anna Lok at the University of Michigan Health System, Department of Internal Medicine. The purpose of the study was to find out the prevalence of hepatitis B among Asian Americans in Michigan as a baseline assessment to help design education campaigns and interventions. The ultimate goal is to have this disease under control and to reduce the incidence of deadly liver cirrhosis and liver cancer in Michigan.


From 2006 to 2008, 567 people were tested in 8 different health fairs. The result was published in the Journal of Community Health in 2010. Here is the summary of the study in a nutshell:


HBsAg (+) Anti-HBs (+) HBsAg (-)/anti-HBs (-) Total
33 307 227 567
6% 54% 40% 100%


HBsAg (+): surface antigen positive [chronic hepatitis B patients]

Anti-HBs (+): surface antibody positive [either had the disease before or immunized]

HBsAg (-)/anti-HBs (-): both surface antigen and antibody are negative [never infected by HBV]




Killing Us Softly: What Americans Don’t Know & Why It Will Kill Them

Huffington Post (blog)

For too long, viral hepatitis, an epidemic that doesn’t necessarily make headlines, has steadily and silently affected the lives of millions of Americans. In fact, as many as 5.3 million Americans have hepatitis B or hepatitis C, contributing to a


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