Monday, October 24, 2011

Hepatitis B Vaccination Policies in the US

A Los Altos, CA paper explained the growing liver cancer epidemic in the United States, centered mostly around the Bay Area in Asian immigrants, mostly caused by Hepatitis B Virus. For instance, Asians and Pacific Islanders make up 4.5 % of the US population but account for more than 50% of chronic hepatitis B cases.

The problem is that while this vaccination will surely prevent you from getting Hepatitis B-related liver cancer, most of the individuals who have Hepatitis B acquire it in Asia as opposed to when they come to the United States. While one doctor argues that the challenge is to educate and motivate Asian immigrants to get vaccinated, another one says that recent increase in vaccination rates in the U.S. has no correlation with rates of HBV infection. The latter doctor justifies his argument with this graph:

HBV is transmitted via similar routes as HIV (blood & semen) but is much more infectious.

This of course raises the question of whether or not our public health spending is allocated properly and intellectually. If our education of Asian immigrants is indeed useless scientifically, how has this gone unnoticed?


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