Global Prevalence of Hepatitis B Virus Infection in 2016 Estimated

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Although some regions are well on their way to meeting prophylaxis and prevalence targets, all regions must substantially scale-up access to diagnosis and treatment to meet the global targets.

Global prevalence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection may be higher than previously reported; therefore, all regions must substantially scale-up access to diagnosis and treatment to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030, according to a study published in the Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology.1

In 2016, the World Health Assembly passed the Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis, which included specific targets to help in eliminating HBV and hepatitis C virus by 2030.2 Therefore, to estimate hepatitis B surface antigen prevalence, prophylaxis use, and proportion diagnosed and treated in the general population and in children aged 5 years at that time, researchers combined traditional meta-analysis, national expert interviews, and modeling to determine these quantifications.1

They found the global prevalence of hepatitis B surface antigen in 2016 was 3.9% (291,992,000 infections), which is higher than previous studies because it excluded studies performed in blood donors and other nonrepresentative populations. Of these infections, around 29 million (10%) were diagnosed, and only 4.8 million (5%) of 94 million individuals eligible for treatment actually received antiviral therapy.

Among children aged 5 years, there were approximately 1.8 million infections with a prevalence of 1.4%. They estimated that 87% of infants received the 3-dose HBV vaccination in the first year of life, 46% received timely birth-dose vaccination, and 13% received hepatitis B immunoglobulin along with the full vaccination regimen. In addition, they found that less than 1% of mothers with a high viral load received antiviral therapy to reduce mother-to-child transmission.

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“We have provided a situational analysis that shows how countries with a high HBV prevalence, such as China, can reduce the number of new infections through proactive national programmes,” the study authors concluded.1


  1. The Polaris Observatory Collaborators. Global prevalence, treatment, and prevention of hepatitis B virus infection in 2016: a modelling study [published online March 26, 2018]. Lancet Gastroenterol Hepatol. doi: 10.1016/S2468-1253(18)30056-6
  2. World Health Organization. Global health sector strategies on viral hepatitis 2016-2021. Published June 2016. Accessed March 30, 2018.