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Prospects for hepatitis B virus eradication and control of hepatocellular carcinoma.

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Department of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei.


Hepatitis B virus infection is the most common cause of chronic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma worldwide. In areas hyperendemic for HBV infection, the related complications occur mostly during adulthood. However, nearly half of all primary infection in chronic carriers occurs in the perinatal period through maternal transmission, the other half arising from horizontal transmission mainly through intrafamilial spread or injection using unsterilized needles. A universal vaccination programme is better than immunization for at-risk groups. Hepatitis B vaccination should be integrated into the Expanded Programme on Immunization in children. Universal immunization against hepatitis B virus has proved to be effective in reducing the hepatitis B carrier rate to one-tenth of the prevalence before the vaccination programme in highly endemic areas, and the incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma in children has also been shown to be significantly reduced. Continued efforts to implement universal vaccination programmes worldwide will very likely reduce the incidence of hepatitis B virus-related diseases, particularly liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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