"If you or your parents were born in Asia or the Pacific Islands, it is critical that you get tested for hepatitis B," Dr. Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement.
"Everyone in the Asian-American community -- from individuals, to community leaders, to physicians -- can all help us put an end to this epidemic by getting tested and talking about hepatitis B."
In the United States, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders are one of the groups hardest hit by hepatitis B, which can cause potentially fatal liver damage, including liver cancer.
Hepatitis B-related liver cancer is a leading cause of death among many in these communities. Many with chronic hepatitis B became infected as infants or young children. It is usually spread when someone comes into contact with blood from someone who has the virus, Koh said.
It is estimated 1-in-12 Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders live with hepatitis B. Yet, 2-in-3 do not know they are infected, because the disease often has no symptoms until serious liver damage has occurred, Koh said.
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