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.
“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
- 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
- World Health Organization. Global health sector strategies on viral hepatitis 2016-2021. http://www.who.int/hepatitis/strategy2016-2021/ghss-hep/en. Published June 2016. Accessed March 30, 2018.