W2 Reflection: Hepatitis B in Asian Populations

The topic of race and genetics has been a heated discussion within the health field as it is pertinent in explaining the many different health disparities among different ethnic and racial groups.  From two different anthropological perspective lenses, health can be analyzed through biological and ecological factors and determining which of the two plays a part in different diseases is of great importance.  Race has been a central point in many misguided theses on the genetic dominance over one group, as seen from the Eugenic movement.  Attempts at proving whites and blacks have different ancestral roots and therefore justifying social stratification is an example of this.  In truth, race has been debated extensively over its true underlying causality as looking into deep biological components, humans are all the same and there is no biological classification to explain race, nevertheless in some races disease may be more prevalent.

I am personally very conflicted with my predilections on the debate and the disease I chose does perpetuate the complexities with this issue.  In regards to Hepatitis B the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention points out “Asian and Pacific Islanders (APIs) make up less than 5% of the total population in the United States, but account for more than 50% of Americans living with chronic Hepatitis B.”  Looking into the image above, this is definitely connected with the high  prevalence of the disease in Asia compared to the lower numbers in Europe.  Once again, the debate as to whether this is due to a ecological source or something genetic within Asians is brought up.  Today, Hepatitis B can be avoided through vaccinations yet the disparities in Public Health can be a reason to why there may be such high numbers.  Even still, this not explain why mostly all of Asia is engulfed in high at risk rates for the disease compared to poor countries in other continents.

In all I think that the issue of racial dispositions being an important factor is hard to call but it is hard ignoring the fact there are little diseases that are equally distributed through race.  I think that biology and ecology work hand in hand in regards to epidemiology.

“Testing and Vaccination”, Hep Free Hawai`i, Accessed May 29, 2015. http://hepfreehawaii.org/?page_id=29

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