On a global basis, hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality due to acute hepatitis and the sequelae of chronic HBV infection, namely, cirrhosis and primary hepatocellular carcinoma.1 Although HBV-related diseases are most prevalent in Asia and Africa, no part of the world is spared. Even in areas with a relatively low incidence of infection, the impact is substantial. In the United States, it is estimated that 300 000 persons become infected with HBV annually and that the direct medical costs for acute and chronic hepatitis B—related diseases are more than $1 million per day.2
The good news is that the tools necessary to eliminate the transmission of HBV and its related diseases are at hand. Hepatitis B vaccines, which were developed more than 10 years ago, have been shown to be safe and effective in preventing HBV infection in adults,3,4
Francis DP, Margolis HS. Worldwide Elimination of Hepatitis B Transmission: We Have the Way, We Need the Will. JAMA. 1989;261(16):2400–2401. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420160132038
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