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Vaccine. 1999 Mar 26;17(13-14):1734-8.

Immunization programme against hepatitis B virus infection in Italy: cost-effectiveness.

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Italian Institute for Prevention of Liver Diseases, WHO Collaborating Center, Naples, Italy.


In Italy in the 1980s the extent of viral hepatitis B infection was on average about 11,000 symptomatic cases of acute viral hepatitis (AVH) per year (19/100,000 inhabitants). The prevalence of HBsAg carriers in the general population was about 3% and in pregnant women 2.4%. 64,000 people were affected by chronic viral hepatitis (CVH) or cirrhosis (prevalence rate 112/100,000) and 3400 by hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) (prevalence rate 5.9/100,000). To reduce these HBV related pathologies in the Italian population, universal vaccination of newborn babies, 12-year old adolescents and high risk groups was implemented in 1991. The annual cost of this immunization is about 57 million 544 thousand USD: direct costs: 41 million 34 thousand USD; indirect costs: 16 million 510 thousand USD. Concerning the vaccination impact on HBV endemicity in Italy, we found a significant reduction of acute viral hepatitis incidence (4.2/100,000 in 1996 versus 19/100,000 in the '80s) and HBsAg carrier prevalence (0.9% in 1997 versus 3% in the '80s). As for the assistance and social cost of acute viral hepatitis occurring from 1991 to 1996 (17,608 cases) it was 238 million 908 thousand USD, while the cost for the same pathology in the years from 1985 to 1990 (35,614 cases) was 483 million 216 thousand USD. Thus, the saving during the years of the vaccination was evaluated in 244 million 308 thousand USD. At the moment, we have no information about the reduction in chronic sequelae of HBV pathology as an effect of the vaccination, because the incidence of this pathology generally starts to appear after 15 years (in our case in 2006).

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