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We care for patients with a language-sensitive and culturally conscious approach. Call 310-794-7788 to learn more about the Asian Liver Program at UCLA Health.

Hepatitis B virus is the primary cause of liver disease in Asians. In the United States, chronic hepatitis B is the leading cause of liver cancer, and is the second-leading cause for liver transplantation.  While there is no cure for hepatitis B, there is a vaccine that prevents infection.  Unfortunately, many susceptible people are not receiving vaccination to prevent this serious disease.

The Silent Killer -- A significant portion of patients who are chronically infected with hepatitis B are unaware of their illness which will progress and cause major health problems such as liver failure and liver cancer.

Symptoms -- Many patients with chronic hepatitis B do not have symptoms and feel healthy. When symptoms do appear, it is often in the late stage of liver disease when treatment may be less effective.

Early diagnosis -- If untreated, it is estimated that hepatitis B will lead to cirrhoses or liver cancer in as many as 1 in 4 individuals.

Screening for hepatitis B -- Screening is done by performing a simple and inexpensive blood test, hepatitis B surface antigen (HBgAg).

What is hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B (HBV) is a blood-borne microorganism transmitted by exposure to the hepatitis B virus through infectious body fluids or blood.

Hepatitis B is one of the most frequently reported, vaccine-preventable diseases in the United States. It is estimated that 3,000 to 5,000 deaths will occur each year from a chronic HBV infection, and an estimated 800,000 to 1.4 million people have chronic hepatitis B.

What are the symptoms of hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B has a wide range of symptoms. It may be mild, without symptoms, or it may cause chronic hepatitis. In some cases, hepatitis B can lead to full-blown liver failure and death. The following are the most common symptoms of hepatitis B. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Loss of appetite

  • Nausea

  • Fatigue (feeling very tired)

  • Vomiting

  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)

  • Dark urine

  • Clay colored or light colored stools

  • Abdominal (belly) pain

  • Occasionally, skin rashes, arthralgias (joint pain), and arthritis occur

  • Enlarged liver

The symptoms of hepatitis B may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Most children, 4 years or younger, and newly infected immunosuppressed adults are asymptomatic, whereas 30 to 50 percent of people, 5 years and older, have initial signs and symptoms. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.