News from Hepatitis Week of Jan. 4, 2004/ Vol. 4 No. 01
Hepatitis B Cases on Decline Due to Childhood Vaccinations

Hepatitis B cases fell 67 percent between 1990 and 2002 with much of the decline occurring in children and adolescents due to the effects of routine childhood vaccination, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

During this time period, CDC researchers found that the incidence of acute hepatitis B declined from 8.5 cases to 2.8 cases per 100,000 people. The total number of cases fell from 21,102 in 1990 to 8,064 cases in 2002.

The most significant decline (89 percent) occurred among persons between the ages of 0 to 19, from three cases per 100,000 people in 1990 to 0.3 cases in 2002. The incidence of hepatitis B declined 67 percent and 39 percent, respectively, among those aged 20 to 39 and 40 years and over. However, the majority of this decline occurred between 1990 and 1998. Since 1999, the incidence of hepatitis B has increased five percent among males between the ages of 20 to 39 years and 20 percent and 31 percent, respectively, among males and females 40 and over.

To reduce the transmission of the hepatitis B virus further in the United States, the researchers said vaccination programs are needed that target men who have sex with men, injection-drug users and other adults at high risk.

Other sources: CDC