Hepatitis B Prevalence Among Asian Americans in Michigan: An Assessment to Guide Future Education and Intervention Strategies
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Free HBV (hepatitis B virus) screening was offered at 8 health fairs to Asian Americans in Southeast and West Michigan for two and a half years as a community service to study the prevalence of hepatitis B among Asian Americans in Michigan as a first step in reducing the incidence of hepatitis B. The screening included a 4 ml blood sample and a questionnaire assessing demographics and family history of hepatitis B; tests included the HBV surface antigen and antibody. 567 people participated in the study. About 6% of the participants had chronic hepatitis B (HBV carriers), 54% had the antibody (either had the disease before or were vaccinated) and 40% had no antibody or antigen (never infected by HBV and should be vaccinated to get protection). More than 95% of the participants were immigrants. Participants indicated in the family history that 10% had relatives with hepatitis B, 5% with liver cirrhosis, and 3% with liver cancer. Results of our screening supported our hypothesis that prevalence of hepatitis B among Asian Americans in Michigan would be similar to that in Asian Americans on the East and West coasts. We need to develop a strategy in Michigan to address this disease. In conducting this study, it was noticed that there was still resistance by Asian Americans to participate in clinical studies. An education intervention that is delivered in native Asian languages and in a culturally sensitive manner is needed to effectively raise awareness of hepatitis B among Asian Americans.