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Press Releases

Holy Name Medical Center's Korean Medical Program Releases Hepatitis B Screening Results

Date: 2/4/2011

Prevalence of hepatitis B high, as compared with national average

Teaneck, NJ - Blood test results from 1,656 Korean-American adults conducted by the Korean Medical Program of Holy Name Medical Center during community-based screening programs between January 2010 and November 2010 confirm a high prevalence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) among that population and the need for health initiatives to address the problem.

Fifty three (3.2%) of the screening participants were HBV carriers, 700 (42%) were susceptible to HBV, and 904 (54.8%) were immune. "Our findings," says Chul S. Hyun, MD, PhD, Director of HNMC's Asian Liver Center, a branch of Holy Name's Korean Medical Program, "will be used to develop evidence-based strategies to tailor community-based HBV screenings to the high-risk groups among Asian-Americans in the New Jersey/New York metro area."

According to the World Health Organization, chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is responsible for the majority of liver-related morbidity and mortality throughout the world. "Previous reports have demonstrated an HBV prevalence rate of 10-15 percent in the Asian-American population," notes Dr. Hyun, "as compared to less than 0.3 percent in the general US population, demonstrating a marked disparity between these two groups."

The Korean Medical Program's findings showed that prevalence of HBV varied only slightly between age groups: 3.9%, ages 21-40; 3.6% ages 41-60; and 2.8%, ages 61-80. History of previous infection was greatest in older age groups: 10.5%, ages 21-40; 47%, ages 41-60; and 62%, ages 61-80. As expected, the degree of immunity through vaccination was lowest in the older population: 54.5%, ages 21-40; 56.4%, ages 41-60; and 10.8%, ages 61-80.

"There is a strong need to identify individuals in the Asian-American community who can benefit from vaccination and those who may need treatment," says Dr. Hyun, "and to develop strategic plans to reduce the impact of HBV in the Asian-American community."

"We were most fortunate to get the necessary funding for the Hep B screening program from pharmaceutical companies and private foundations last year, and we will continue to seek additional funding from various organizations in 2011," says Kyung-Hee Choi, Director, Korean Medical Program. "There is still much work to do, reaching out to Asian people in our community. For example, we have established an excellent working relationship with many Korean churches where hepatitis B screenings have been, and will continue to be, conducted on Sundays."

The participants in the screenings, which took place at locations throughout Bergen County, were tested for hepatitis B surface antigen, hepatitis B surface antibody, and hepatitis B core antibody. They also completed questionnaires, the data from which were used to evaluate demographic and epidemiologic characteristics.

For more information about the Korean Medical Program or the Hepatitis B Campaign, call 201-833-3399.