Local Doctors Encourage Patients to Get Tested for Hepatitis B

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Hawaii has an alarmingly high rate of hepatitis B infection.

The virus affects Asians and Pacific Islanders at a much higher rate than any other group. According to the American Liver Foundation, an estimated one in ten Asian-Americans has hepatitis B.

Local doctors are encouraging people to get a simple blood test to know if they have the virus even if they’ve been vaccinated in the past.

Dr. Naoky Tsai studies liver disease and teaches at the University of Hawaii’s medical school.

He calls Hepatitis B a “silent disease” because people can have the virus and feel fine until they develop a serious complication like liver cancer.

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There is no cure for hepatitis B, but Dr. Tsai says there are many effective treatments and patients can have a normal life span.

More information about hepatitis B and its effect on the Asian community is available from the Asian Liver Center at Stanford University, on the Web at liver.stanford.edu

(Aileen Humphreys / HPR News)