Prevention of Hepatitis B Infection
The control of infectious diseases generally involves three successive steps: first, the identification of the etiologic agent, second, the development of means for interruption of transmission, and, lastly the utilization of these means. Tremendous progress has been made in the first two of the above steps during the past 30 years. Hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), hepatitis D virus (HDV), and hepatitis E virus (HEV) have been identified and characterized to the level of nucleotide sequence. Safe and effective HBV and hepatitis A virus (HAV) vaccines have been developed and licensed. Sensitive and specific screening assays are available for the identification of blood donors infected with HBV and HCV. As described elsewhere at this meeting, progress is being made towards development of vaccines for HDV and HEV. However, progress in the utilization of these measures on a worldwide basis has been disappointingly slow. Indeed, it has become evident that implementation of control measures is a problem of greater magnitude and complexity than the development of the vaccines to be used in control of the disease. This report will illustrate this problem in the context of HBV control, and will describe efforts being made to accelerate the rate of progress.
Key wordsPrevention Hepatitis B virus Vaccine Utilization
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