Take action for Hepatitis Awareness Month: Be aware. Stop silence. Get tested.

The month of May is Hepatitis Awareness Month and ICHS has an important message, especially if you are part of the Asian American and immigrant communities: Take action.

Hepatitis B is a virus that causes inflammation of the liver. Acute hepatitis B, a short-term illness, may or may not make you sick with flu-like symptoms before you feel better. Without proper screening and diagnosis, chronic hepatitis B, is a long-term ticking time bomb. An apparently healthy body can be infected for years – even decades. Left untreated, hepatitis B can lead to cirrhosis, liver damage, liver failure or liver cancer.

Hepatitis B – A silent and deadly epidemic

Though they only make up 5% of the total U.S. population, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders account for half of Americans living with chronic hepatitis B infection. Two out of three are unaware of the health risk they carry.

This month, join ICHS in efforts to raise awareness and eradicate hepatitis B – and as it leads the work of the Hepatitis B Coalition of Washington (HPCW). Focus on simple three actions that could save a life:

  1. Be Aware. Tap into ICHS and other resources

There are many misperceptions about hepatitis B. A good source of information is the Center for Disease Control website, which has statistics, and information on transmission and testing. Go there to learn more.

ICHS is making key issues relatable with a free screening of Be About It, co-sponsored with the HPCW. The documentary tells the story of two men and two families living with hepatitis B. All members of the community are invited to attend on May 23, from 5 to 8:30 p.m, at the New Holly Gathering Hall.

  1. Stop silence. Start talking

Hepatitis B gets shoved under the rug by the very communities it impacts because of misperceptions, shame and fear. The lack of discussion can be deadly and needs to change. This month is a good time to start having conversations. ICHS urges you to serve as an advocate within your community. Bring hepatitis B out of the shadows and into discussions about general health and well-being. Help friends and family members understand the risks – and how getting tested contributes to long-term health.

  1. Get tested. May 19 is National Hepatitis Testing Day

May 19 is National Hepatitis Testing Day – mark your calendar and go get a hepatitis B screening. Hepatitis B is diagnosed with a simple blood test that can be done at a doctor’s office or local health clinic. The results will tell you whether you may be infected, protected or still at risk for future infection.

ICHS offers hepatitis B screenings and immunizations at its clinic locations in Chinatown-International District, Holly Park, Shoreline and Bellevue. ICHS accepts most major insurance coverage plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, and turns no one away, regardless of ability to pay. There is a sliding fee scale for those who qualify.

Take action. Make May the month to raise awareness, break the silence and get tested for hepatitis B.