New film warns: Hepatitis-B common among Asian Americans
Be About It by Christopher Wong screened on May 11 at University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine, followed by a panel discussion.
Wong described his own lack of awareness of the disease and its prevalence before making the film: “The funny thing was that I was not aware of the disease myself. I didn’t know that it even had to do with the liver; that’s how uninformed I was. So when I started to dig deeper I was really shocked by the fact that over 50 percent of the cases are people of Asian descent. That really made me interested.”
Be About It is the story of two Asian fathers, their families and their reality of living with hepatitis-B, a potentially deadly disease that affects approximately one million Asian Americans.
Hep B, caused by the hepatitis B virus, can result in serious liver problems before symptoms become noticeable and is frequently referred to as a “silent killer.” Up to two million people are infected in the U.S., and as many as two out of three Asian Americans living with it aren’t aware they have it. Often stigmatized and misunderstood, hep B is the most common cause of liver cancer among Asian Americans.
Hep B is caused by a virus that is transmitted via blood and other bodily fluids. Hep B can be managed, and the disease can be prevented – but if left untreated, the complications of hep B can potentially be life threatening.
As Asian immigrants are projected to be the largest immigrant population in the country over the next 40 years, the need to call attention to this so-called “silent” disease is more critical than ever. The good news is that hep B can easily be detected with a quick and simple blood test. Everyone should talk to their doctor about getting tested – especially if you are of Asian descent.
If you test negative for hep B, there is a safe and effective vaccine that can prevent hep B, and it is widely available in the United States. If you test positive for hep B, talk to your doctor about whether treatment would be appropriate for you. Regular screenings to monitor the health of your liver are very important, and there are treatments that may potentially lower the amount of virus and decrease the risk of further damage to the liver – some are just one pill a day.
So on Hepatitis Testing Day on May 19, join millions of Asians here in the United States and around the globe and get tested for hepatitis B.
Visit hepBsmart.com for information about chronic hepatitis B, and to learn about the documentary film short BE ABOUT IT, sponsored by Gilead Sciences, which chronicles the lives of two Asian Americans, Alan and AJ, as they battle chronic hepatitis B, and how their families cope with the impact of this potentially life-threatening disease. The film aims to educate, inspire and ultimately dispel myths about hepatitis B. BE ABOUT IT is subtitled in Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Japanese, and community screening kits are now available.