Korean J Intern Med.  2013 Jul;28(4):413-419. 10.3904/kjim.2013.28.4.413.

Recent trends in hepatitis B virus infection in the general Korean population

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Kyung Hee University Medical Center, Seoul, Korea. kimbh@khu.ac.kr
  • 2Department of Biostatistics, Korea University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.

Abstract

BACKGROUND/AIMS
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is the major cause of chronic liver disease in Korea, but viral prevalence has decreased because of hepatitis B vaccination programs. In this study, we investigated longitudinal changes in HBV in fection in the general Korean population.
METHODS
HBV surface antigen (hepatitis B surface antigen, HBsAg) seropositivity was assessed from the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (I to V). In total, 50,140 subjects were tested for serum HBsAg positivity over a period of 12 years (1998 to 2010).
RESULTS
The prevalence of HBsAg seropositivity decreased over the study period. The rates of HBsAg carriers were 4.61% in 1998, 4.60% in 2001, 3.69% in 2005, 3.01% in 2008, and 2.98% in 2010 (p < 0.0001). The reduction in HBV infection rates was more prominent in younger age groups. Among teenagers (10 to 19 years), the percentage of HBsAg carriers decreased from 2.2% in 1998 to 0.12% in 2010 (p < 0.0001). Among those aged 10 to 39 years, the percentage of HBV infection decreased from 4.72% in 1998 to 2.29% in 2010 (p < 0.0001). However, no decreasing trend in HBsAg positivity was observed among those aged 50 or older (p > 0.05). Neither gender nor socioeconomic status were associated with the decreased prevalence of HBsAg carriers.
CONCLUSIONS
HBV infection has decreased in the Korean population since the advent of vaccination programs. However, the decrease is limited to the younger population, and viral persistence remains in the middle-aged and older population.

Keyword

Age groups; Hepatitis B surface antigens; Hepatitis B virus; Prevalence; Korea

MeSH Terms

Adolescent
Adult
Age Distribution
Age Factors
Aged
Biological Markers/blood
Chi-Square Distribution
Child
Cross-Sectional Studies
Female
Health Surveys
Hepatitis B/diagnosis/*epidemiology/prevention & control
Hepatitis B Surface Antigens/blood
Hepatitis B Vaccines/therapeutic use
Humans
Longitudinal Studies
Male
Middle Aged
Prevalence
Republic of Korea/epidemiology
Seroepidemiologic Studies
Socioeconomic Factors
Time Factors
Young Adult
Biological Markers
Hepatitis B Surface Antigens
Hepatitis B Vaccines
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