Report on Hepatitis B carrier rate in China

News about: China

Date: Sun 28 Jul 2013
Source: The Global Times [edited]

Nearly 1/3rd of the world's 350 million hepatitis B carriers are Chinese, said the National Health and Family Planning Commission before World Hepatitis Day Sunday [28 Jul 2013], putting the number at 100 million. The commission also said half of 700 000 deaths caused by viral hepatitis [B?] every year globally are Chinese. According to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 100,000 Chinese people are infected every year. Vaccination has proven to be the most effective way to prevent [hepatitis B virus infection].

The World Health Organization said Sunday [28 Jul 2013] in a report that through vaccination, China has reduced the chronic infection rate in children aged below 5 from 10 percent to less than one percent. China started to vaccinate children [in] 1992 and has offered free vaccination to newborns since 2005. Some 68 million children below 15 had been vaccinated by 2011. The rate of hepatitis B surface antigen carriage for children under 15 was slashed to 0.97 percent in 2006 from 9.7 percent in 1992, when vaccination started, said Yang Weizhong, a deputy director of China CDC.

Despite the efforts, the number of hepatitis B carriers will remain enormous for 3 to 4 generations, Zheng Yingjie, associate professor at the Shanghai-based Fudan University School of Public Health, told the Global Times. Zheng, an expert on prevention of hepatitis B, said maternal-neonatal transmission is the main cause. "If a baby is infected, the condition can only be controlled but not cured. That's why the infection rate in age groups above 20 will not see an immediate decline," said Zheng.

Hepatitis B carriers and patients in China have suffered discrimination at different stages of life, especially in employment, though laws and regulations have been amended in recent years to ban employment discrimination against those carriers. "This was partly caused by improper policies in the past, and the government has realized it," Zheng said. "Discrimination also comes from ignorance of the disease, so public health education is very essential. Three to 4 people out of 50 might be hepatitis B carriers; they can be friends or family."  [Byline: Duan Wuning]
[Hepatitis B virus (HBV) can cause an acute illness with symptoms that last several weeks, including yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), dark urine, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In highly endemic areas, HBV is most commonly spread from mother to child at birth or from person to person in early childhood. Perinatal or early childhood transmission may also account for more than 1/3rd of chronic infections in areas of low endemicity, although in those settings, sexual transmission and the use of contaminated needles, especially among injecting drug users, are the major routes of infection. HBV can survive outside the body for at least 7 days. During this time, the virus can still cause infection if it enters the body of a person who is not protected by the vaccine. HBV is not spread by contaminated food or water and cannot be spread casually in the workplace.

There is no specific treatment for acute hepatitis B. Care is aimed at maintaining comfort and adequate nutritional balance, including replacement of fluids that are lost from vomiting and diarrhoea. Some people with chronic hepatitis B can be treated with drugs, including interferon and antiviral agents. Treatment can slow the progression of cirrhosis, reduce incidence of HCC, and improve long term survival. Treatment, however, is not readily accessible in many resource-constrained settings. Liver cancer is almost always fatal and often develops in people at an age when they are most productive and have family responsibilities. In developing countries, most people with liver cancer die within months of diagnosis. In high-income countries, surgery and chemotherapy can prolong life for up to a few years.

Hepatitis B vaccine is the mainstay of hepatitis B prevention. WHO recommends that all infants receive the hepatitis B vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. Hepatitis B vaccine contains HBsAg (hepatitis B virus surface antigen) adsorbed onto aluminium hydroxide adjuvant. The HBsAg is prepared from yeast cells employing recombinant DNA technology. The vaccine has an excellent record of safety and effectiveness. Since 1982, over one billion doses of hepatitis B vaccine have been used worldwide. In many countries, where 8-15 percent of children used to become chronically infected with hepatitis B virus, vaccination has reduced the rate of chronic infection to less than one percent among immunized children. (Information complied from several sources). - ProMed Mod.CP]

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Source: ProMed Newsgroup Date: 30-Jul-2013 10:12:35