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Hepatitis B testing important for at-risk groups

Category: Liver Diseases

In an effort to lower the incidences of infection, public health organizations are recommending that all at-risk individuals seek hepatitis B testing.

The disease causes inflammation of the liver, leading to scarring and, if left untreated, failure of the organ. It is transmitted through the exchange of bodily fluids. Mother-to-child transmission has become a serious problem among foreign-born Asian Americans, especially those from Vietnam, China and Korea.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended that these individuals seek hepatitis B testing because they are at a higher risk for carrying the disease. Recently, health officials in Seattle have stepped up their efforts to get the city's large Asian American population tested, according to the Seattle Times.

"All pregnant women in the U.S. are tested for hepatitis B," Kim Nguyen, program manager with the Hepatitis B Coalition of Washington, told the news source. "But for those who are foreign-born, especially in Southeast Asia or Africa where healthcare is minimal, moms don't get prenatal care."

The CDC estimates that there are 1.4 million individuals in the U.S. who have the disease, more than half of whom are Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders.

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