Understanding cultural barriers in hepatitis B virus infection
The prevalence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in the Asian American population is disproportionately high compared with the US population as a whole. Effective management is difficult because of cultural barriers, which can be better understood with recognition of the diversity of the Asian continent in terms of language and spiritual beliefs. Barriers to care among the Asian American population include educational deficits, low socioeconomic status, lack of health insurance, noncitizenship, inability to communicate in English, negative perceptions of Western medicine, and underrepresentation among health care professionals. Given the diversity of the population, some subpopulations may be more directly affected by certain barriers than others. The resulting delays in seeking care can lead to poor outcomes and risk of HBV transmission to household members. Health care providers are obligated to educate themselves regarding cultural sensitivity and to advocate for improved access to care.
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