Hepatitis B, despite a vaccine existing for the last 39 years, is one of the deadliest diseases of our time. In 2015, the World Health Organization approximated 887,000 deaths annually, with hepatitis B deaths alone set to overtake other pandemics like HIV and others, shown below. Hepatitis B is most notable, however, in the severity that it disproportionately affects Asian and African countries. This disparity is undeniably perceivable in America as well: the Center of Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) data, shown below, states that Asian-American ethnicities face hepatitis B at rates considerably higher than other populations in America.
Many misconceptions exist about hepatitis B: 1. confusion over acute and chronic hepatitis B infections often prevent appropriate care, 2. the transmission of the disease, a sexually transmitted disease, is unclear to patients, and 3. the typical lack of symptoms seen in chronic hepatitis B patients often leads to delays in diagnosis until complications such as liver cancer or cirrhosis arise. As World Hepatitis Day approaches on July 28th, everyone should remember the dangers of hepatitis B. Get tested and vaccinated for free under the Affordable Care Act, and do your part in stopping the spread of the silent killer.
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-07592-7, based on WHO Global Health Estimates 2016