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J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 1997 Oct;12(9-10):S370-6.

Prevention of hepatitis B and C virus infection for prevention of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei, ROC.


In Taiwan, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) have been common in medical practice since the 1960s. In 1969, Taiwan was shown to be a hyperendemic area of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection with a high rate of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) positivity, 19% of the population being infected before the fourth decade of life. There is evidence indicating that more than 80% of chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis and HCC are the sequelae of chronic HBV infection. In 1984, after 3 years of preparation, a programme to control cirrhosis and HCC began. All neonates born to HBsAg+ mothers were given Pasteur plasma-derived vaccine 5 micrograms i.m. at 1, 5 and 9 weeks with a booster at 12 months. In 1986, all neonates were included in this programme. In addition, beginning in 1987, all non-vaccinated preschool children were also immunized and susceptible medical personnel and people from HBsAg+ households were recommended to receive the vaccine. Using data obtained from the 7-year evaluation study on the efficacy of this vaccine and some historical data, the HBsAg positivity rate in people born in the first few years after 1986 was estimated to be 2.6%. This rate is expected to decrease to 0.2% in those born after around 1990. In July 1992, an anti-hepatitis C virus (HCV) test was included in blood donor screening tests. This was followed by a decrease in the incidence of post-transfusion hepatitis (PTH) from 13 to 2.5% and there have been no anti-HCV+ PTH cases since. However, without immunization, the prevalence of HBsAg decreased among children in Taipei in 1989. This coincided with the widespread use of disposable syringes and needles and an improvement in the sterilization of medical instruments. Therefore, it is likely that HCV infection may also decrease as a result of these practices. Through the use of immunization and improved medical procedures, chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis and HCC may decrease in Taiwan by around 95%.

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