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Hepatitis A virus: declining seroprevalence in children and adolescents in Southeast Asia.

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  • 1Department of Communicable Disease Control, Ministry of Public Health, Nothaburi, Thailand.


The prevalence of hepatitis A virus (HAV) in a country largely reflects its standards of hygiene and socioeconomic conditions. Countries which undergo socioeconomic development show major change in HAV prevalence from high to low endemicity, and this is largely reflected in patterns of age-related seroprevalence. This paper presents age-related HAV seroprevalence patterns of SE Asian countries, and highlights how these patterns have changed over recent decades. Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia have experienced a decline in childhood and adolescent HAV seroprevalence, typical of countries which undergo socioeconomic development. By contrast, India has remained a country of high endemicity, with almost universal seroconversion in childhood. The Philippines and Vietnam show age-related seroprevalence patterns typical of high to moderate endemicity, while Indonesia shows significant regional variation in HAV seroprevalence. Populations within countries which exhibit major improvements in endemicity and age related HAV seroprevalence patterns are at risk of HAV epidemics, and a paradoxical increase in incidence tends to occur as seroconversion shifts from children to adults. The residents of these countries, a significant number of whom are at-risk, would benefit from a program of vaccination, as would non-infected individuals visiting high-risk areas.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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