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Hepatitis B deaths in Hawaiʻi surpass national average, report says

Doyle (right) ices down a liver to prepare it for transplant.
Patti Gabriel Photography
Surgeons ice down a liver to prepare it for transplant.

A new report shows that Hawaiʻi's hepatitis B and liver cancer mortality rates are higher than the national average.

In fact, the Department of Health's Hawaiʻi Hepatitis B Morality and Liver Cancer Incidence and Mortality Report shows that the state has one of the highest rates in the country.

The hepatitis B death rate in Hawaiʻi in 2019 was 1.17 per 100,000 people, while the national average was 0.42 in the same year.

The DOH reports that over 20 Hawaiʻi residents infected with the hepatitis B virus died in 2019.

The mortality rate for male residents between 2000 and 2020 was nearly double the state average. Men accounted for more than 70% of hepatitis B-associated deaths.

According to the Hepatitis B Foundation, more than half of liver cancer diagnoses are caused by a chronic hepatitis B infection — making liver cancer death rates in Hawaiʻi constantly higher than the national average.

The foundation also adds that Asian and Pacific Islanders have the highest rates of liver cancer in the U.S. Those ethnic groups account for three-quarters of liver cancer deaths in Hawaiʻi.

Zoe Dym is a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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