One of six Hmong in Fresno County could be infected with hepatitis, according to a new health survey that has shocked community leaders and added urgency to the fight against the liver disease.
But it won't be easy: Most don't realize they're infected.
The study, conducted by Dr. Muhammad Y. Sheikh, an associate professor of clinical medicine at the UCSF-Fresno Medical Education Program, found that almost 17% of Hmong in Fresno County have the hepatitis B virus. Infection can damage the liver and lead to cirrhosis.
And it's a major cause of liver cancer -- the No. 1 cancer killer of Laotian men in California.
Few studies have looked at hepatitis B infection among the Hmong, who came to the United States in large numbers after the Vietnam War as refugees. Between 20,000 to 30,000 now live in Fresno County.