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On March 5, the U.S. Department of Justice reached a settlement with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The settlement agreement resolved allegations that UMDNJ rejected applicants to its medical school and school of osteopathic medicine because the applicants have hepatitis B. This settlement marks the first ADA enforcement action by the Justice Department on behalf of people with hepatitis B.

What Is Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease resulting from infection with the hepatitis B virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness. A mother who is infected with hepatitis B can pass the virus to her baby at birth. It is estimated that 800,000 to 1.4 million people in the United States have chronic hepatitis B virus infection, according to a report by Heather M. Colvin and Abigail E. Mitchell titled “Hepatitis and Liver Cancer: A National Strategy for Prevention and Control of Hepatitis B and C.” Of that number, 50 percent are of Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander descent, the report said.

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