Preventing Hepatitis B

The leading cause of liver cancer globally, hepatitis B, is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus. The virus spreads when blood, semen, or other body fluid from a person infected with the hepatitis B virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. The major routes of transmission are from mother to infant (perinatal), child to child (non-sexual person-to-person contact), sexual contact, and percutaneous exposure (through blood, sharing needles or syringes and drug-injection equipment) to blood or other infectious body fluids.

The best way to prevent hepatitis B is to be fully vaccinated. The World Health Organization recommends vaccinating babies within 24 hours of birth, followed by 2 to 3 additional doses within 6 months. Globally, chronic hepatitis B affects approximately 296 million people and contributes to an estimated 800,000 deaths every year.

Field Stories and Blogs
CDC Works With Countries
CDC helps countries identify children infected with hepatitis B virus and generate the evidence for hepatitis B vaccine birth dose introduction (2018)
Controlling Hepatitis B
Controlling hepatitis B in Sierra Leone (2019)
Thinking Outside the Box
Innovations in Preventing hepatitis B at Birth (2017)
Thinking Outside the Box
Eliminate Hepatitis
The Importance of hepatitis B Vaccine Birth Dose (2017)
Eliminate Hepatitis: The Importance of Hepatitis B Vaccine Birth Dose

CDC’s work to prevent hepatitis B

CDC provides scientific and technical support to help partners and countries  decrease the burden of hepatitis B infection.

Documenting the magnitude of the problem and the impact of hepatitis B vaccination

  • Conduct surveys to evaluate the prevalence of hepatitis B among children, estimating the impact of hepatitis B vaccination, and measuring progress toward hepatitis B control/elimination goals. Surveys have been completed in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Colombia, Georgia, Ghana, Haiti,  Nigeria, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, the Solomon Islands, South Pacific Islands, Tajikistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.
  • Conduct surveys to assess the burden of hepatitis B in pregnant women. Surveys have been completed in Ghana, Haiti, and Nigeria to guide vaccination policy.
  • Assess the burden of mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis B in Africa to inform hepatitis B vaccine birth dose introduction.

Improving coverage of hepatitis B vaccine birth dose

  • Implement and evaluate a package of interventions to improve hepatitis B vaccine access and demand in Nigeria and Vietnam.
  • Evaluate best practices for using hepatitis B birth dose vaccine in a controlled temperature chain in rural Lao PDR, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands.
  • Evaluate the impact of providing cell phones to village health volunteers to improve timely reporting of new home births and the program’s effect on hepatitis B birth dose administration in Lao PDR.
  • Evaluate and improve hepatitis B birth dose implementation in health facilities in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Nigeria, the Philippines, and Papua New Guinea.
  • Evaluate selective hepatitis B birth dose vaccination in Sao Tome and Principe, a program assessment and cost-effectiveness study that informed a policy to provide hepatitis B birth dose to all newborns.

Support introduction of hepatitis B birth dose vaccination

  • Contribute to the global hepatitis B birth dose introduction guidelines.external icon
  • Compile evidence on the burden of hepatitis B infection among pregnant women and estimate the risk of mother-to-child transmission in African countries without a hepatitis B birth dose to inform decision-makers why a hepatitis B vaccine for newborns is needed.
  • Support subnational introduction of hepatitis B birth dose vaccination in Ethiopia to inform national scale up and costing.
  • Participate in post-introduction assessments of hepatitis B birth dose vaccination to improve program performance and prevent hepatitis B infections.

Support verification of achievement of hepatitis B control and elimination goals

  • Participate in regional verification commissions or expert working groups to review country reports and assess whether countries have achieved regional hepatitis B control/elimination goals.

Diagnostics and innovations

  • Evaluate the accuracy of rapid field-testing methods against the standard of ELISA lab-based testing.
  • Evaluate new methods for hepatitis B testing for possible integration with tests for other vaccine-preventable diseases.
  • Evaluate a hepatitis B microneedle patch vaccine-delivery system.

Additional Resources

Page last reviewed: July 15, 2021
Content source: Global Immunization