What is HBV?
Hepatitis B is a virus that attacks liver cells, resulting in cirrhosis which is scarring that can lead to cancer and liver failure. This disease can be passed in a variety of ways. Most commonly, it is transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy. The virus is also transmitted through blood and bodily fluids during sex and breastfeeding. It is not, however, passed through saliva. The disease varies in severity. The majority of people with HBV develop its acute form, which goes away within six months, though, in 6-10% of people the acute disease develops into chronic hepatitis B, which lasts for life. Chronic hepatitis B can be critical: 1 in 4 people die of liver failure from the virus, (more than 600,000 people every year). Additionally, the disease is typically asymptomatic for up to 30 years, so people living with chronic hepatitis B won’t know that they are ill until the end stages of liver damage. This is why testing is very important in order to get treatment early. The best way to prevent hepatitis B is through vaccination, which can be administered at any time, consisting of a series of 3 shots. There is no cure for chronic Hepatitis B, so people should get vaccinated!
Who is most vulnerable to HBV?
More than 350 million people are infected with some form of HBV. The most common demographics to develop hepatitis B are people of Asian and African descent, with around 59% of those infected from Asia and 23.3% from Africa. This is relevant to our community, as there are more than 1 million Asian people and more than 500,000 African American people living in the Bay Area.
Where do I go to get tested and/or vaccinated?
If you want to get tested and/or vaccinated you can go to a local community hospital, health center, or planned parenthood.
HBV vaccine costs with and without insurance
The hepatitis B vaccine is covered by both private and public health insurance plans, with various degrees of cost-sharing. Without insurance, a person can expect to pay up to $100 or more out of pocket for each vaccine. Additionally, families not on private insurance are less likely to be recommended vaccination for their children. An NIS sample of children 19–24 months old, found that 76% of the children covered by private insurance were recommended the hepatitis B vaccine, while 70% of the children covered by Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and 53% of uninsured children (Smith et al., 2006b). This shows the disadvantages of people who are uninsured in receiving the vaccine.
We made a flyer/infographic that can be printed out and put up around places with vulnerable communities, so they can learn about HBV and hopefully get tested and/or vaccinated!
“Bay Area Census — Bay Area Data.” Ca.gov, 2021, www.bayareacensus.ca.gov/bayarea.htm.
Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on the Prevention and Control of Viral Hepatitis Infection, et al. “Immunization.” Nih.gov, National Academies Press (US), 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK220044/.
“Kidsdata: Data and Resources about the Health of Children.” Kidsdata.org, www.kidsdata.org/?site=full.
“Profiles of USA Public Schools.” Public School Review, www.publicschoolreview.com/.
“SchoolDigger.com.” SchoolDigger, www.schooldigger.com/.