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Hepatitis Awareness Month --- May 2007

May 2007 marks the 12th anniversary of Hepatitis Awareness Month. This issue of MMWR highlights public health measures to vaccinate and protect children from hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in China and to monitor the characteristics of persons with chronic hepatitis B in San Francisco, California.

Worldwide, 370 million persons have chronic HBV infection, and 500,000--700,000 persons die annually from HBV-related liver disease; approximately 75% of HBV infections occur in Asia (World Health Organization, unpublished data, 2006). In the United States, approximately half of the 1 million persons with chronic HBV infection are Asians/Pacific Islanders, most of whom became infected with HBV before arriving in the United States, including many who remain unaware of their infection (1). The HBV-related death rate among Asians/Pacific Islanders is seven times greater than the rate among whites (CDC, unpublished data, 2007).

Persons with chronic HBV infection are at risk for premature death from liver cirrhosis and cancer. Hepatitis B vaccination of infants worldwide will protect successive generations from chronic HBV infection and associated liver disease. Persons already infected with HBV can benefit from HBV screening, care, and treatment to protect their health and prevent transmission to others.

Reference

  1. CDC. Screening for chronic hepatitis B among Asian/Pacific Islander populations---New York City, 2005. MMWR 2006; 55:505--9.



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