gothamist_health_master_small.jpgHealth scare alert! One in five Asian New Yorkers might be infected with hepatitis B according to the Daily News. Scared yet? OK, so it's not quite that bad, the numbers are probably a bit exaggerated, but the threat is real.

Here, we'll try to explain: Over the past year a number of clinics around the city have been offering free screenings for liver disease to Asian Americans. Those screenings have attracted a large number of applicants, over 1,800, many of whom are recent immigrants without health insurance (which means any trend inferred from the test results is skewed). Of those who have been screened a surprisingly large number appear to be infected with the often invisible Hep B, many never even knowing it. Which is exactly why the disease can be so dangerous when it does eventually lash out. When in a bad mood Hep B can cause cirrhosis, liver failure and is responsible for nearly 80% of the liver cancer worldwide.

Doctors are worried that the unexpectedly high numbers they've found with the free screenings are endemic of a higher than expected rate of the disease among the larger Asian American population. So what is a health-concious person to do? Next time you go to the doctor just ask for a blood test.