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Hepatitis B is a silent killer. It is asymptomatic so people who are infected often feel perfectly healthy. Only 30% of those with acute infections develop symptoms. Most APIs are infected at birth or early childhood, when symptoms may never develop. When symptoms of hepatitis B infection do develop, they include jaundice, fatigue, abdominal pain and loss of appetite.
For those who are infected as newborns, there is a 90% chance of becoming a chronic carrier. For those infected during childhood, there is a 30%-50% chance. Most Asians are exposed to the disease either during the perinatal period or during childhood.
There is a 8-15% prevalence rate of the number of chronic carriers within the Asian community. Perinatal transmission is the most common mode of infection. As a result, prevention of perinatal transmission is of utmost importance in the Asian community. Since HBV is very efficiently transmitted by unprotected sex, all API adults who are sexually active should be vaccinated to prevent infection.