Infect Chemother.  2021 Mar;53(1):159-165. 10.3947/ic.2021.0300.

Epidemiological and Clinical History of Viral Hepatitis in Korea

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Internal Medicine and Liver Research Institute, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • 2Department of Internal Medicine, Yeouido St. Mary's Hospital, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea
  • 3Department of Internal Medicine, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea

Abstract

Viral hepatitis is the most important cause of acute and chronic liver disease in Korea. Particularly, hepatitis B virus (HBV) is the leading cause of liver-related mortality. Because of the nationwide vaccinations in the 1980s, hepatitis B surface antigen positive rates substantially decreased from 8% to 3%. Moreover, the introduction of potent nucleoside or nucleotide analogs led to the effective treatment of patients who had already been infected by HBV. The remaining issue has been to develop novel drugs that can cure HBV infection.Hepatitis C virus (HCV), on the other hand, is a hepatotropic virus that is parenterally transmitted. In Korea, the prevalence of HCV is estimated to be approximately 1%. Although no effective vaccine for HCV has been developed yet, highly effective and safe direct-acting antiviral therapy, which has a short treatment duration of 8 – 12 weeks, has made HCV eradication possible globally. Currently, the unsolved issue regarding HCV management is low disease awareness among patients and health care providers. Therefore, nationwide testing for anti-HCV would be a solution to identify patients infected with HCV but with no symptoms. Lastly, the Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is orally transmitted and results in acute hepatitis. In Korea, the young adult population is a high-risk group since this group is not vaccinated against HAV. More active vaccination and improved hygiene would be necessary to prevent HAV infection.

Keyword

Hepatitis A virus; Hepatitis B virus; Hepatitis C virus; Epidemiology
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