July 30, 2004
HONOLULU - It is estimated that 30,000 to 40,000 people in Hawaii
have hepatitis B and don’t know it. The goal of the Hawaii Jade
Ribbon Campaign is to locate these undetected cases, especially in the
Asian and Pacific Islander communities, and raise awareness about
hepatitis B and liver cancer as well as provide FREE hepatitis B
Hawaii has a hepatitis B chronic carrier rate of approximately 1-3%,
which is approximately five times greater than the U.S. Mainland.
Hepatitis B is transmitted by direct contact with blood or bodily
fluids of an infected person. This transmission can occur by sharing
items such as needles, razors, toothbrushes or nail clippers, or by
having unprotected sex with someone who is infected with hepatitis
“Routine tests don’t detect hepatitis B,” said
Chiyome Leinaala Fukino, Director Hawaii State Department of Health.
“We are hopeful that the Jade Ribbon Campaign will educate
doctors to specifically look for hepatitis B and educate patients,
particularly those at high risk, to ask for the test.”
Governor Lingle has proclaimed August as Hepatitis B Awareness
Month. Activities will include presentations at the Chinese Health
Fair, the Filipino Health Fair and St. Francis Hospital Health Fair as
well as informational programming on local public access television.
The Jade Ribbon Campaign reinforces the Lingle-Aiona
administration’s focus on preventative health efforts as well as
supplying needed services and education to close gaps and lessen health
Symptoms of hepatitis B may include: weakness, headache, yellow
skin, dark urine, upset stomach and pain in the right side. In some
cases the person may have no symptoms. Even if a person has no
symptoms, they can still pass hepatitis B to others. Most people with
hepatitis B get better in a few months, but some become chronic
carriers of the disease. This can lead to liver cancer or cirrhosis,
which can be fatal.
Hepatitis B is preventable through vaccination. A series of three
shots will provide excellent protection from hepatitis B. The shots
will not help if someone is already infected with the disease.
Strategies being used in Hawaii to reduce hepatitis B include:
* Screening of pregnant women to prevent transmission to their
* Offered the first dose of Hepatitis B vaccine at birth to most
babies in Hawaii.
* Requiring hepatitis B vaccination for entry into preschool/daycare
and kindergarten (since October 1997).
* Requiring hepatitis B vaccination for entry into 7th grade (since
The TEEN VAX project continues to distribute hepatitis B vaccine to
physicians statewide for children 6-18 years of age so that there is
little or no out-of-pocket expense for parents. The project is
currently funded through December 2004 and is scheduled to be renewed
for through 2005. TEEN VAX is funded by a grant from the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention.
For more information on Hepatitis B in Hawaii visit the Department
of Health web site a www.hawaii.gov/health or the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov.
For More Information Contact:
Laura M. Lott
Department of Health
Phone: (808) 586-4418