(HealthDay News) — The prevalence of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection has remained constant since 1999, according to a study published online August 6 in Hepatology.

Henry Roberts, PhD, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues sought to determine the prevalence of HBV infection among non-institutionalized individuals aged ≥6 years. They examined the prevalence of antibody to hepatitis B core antigen (anti-HBc), hepatitis B surface antigen, and antibody to hepatitis B surface antigen over three periods: 1988–1994, 1999–2009, and 2007–2012.

The researchers found that for 2007–2012, 3.9% had anti-HBc. Since 1999, the overall prevalence of chronic HBV infection remained constant at 0.3%; the prevalence among non-Hispanic blacks was two- to three-fold greater than that seen in the general population. During 2011–2012, an estimated 3.1% of non-Hispanic Asians were chronically infected with HBV. Since 1999, there was a 16% increase in the adjusted prevalence of vaccine-induced immunity, and there was an increase in the number of persons, mainly young, with serologic evidence of vaccine protection from HBV infection, from 57.8–68.5 million.

“Despite increasing immune protection in young persons vaccinated in infancy, an analysis of chronic hepatitis B prevalence in racial and ethnic populations indicates that during 2011–2012 there were 847,000 HBV infections (which included ~400,000 non-Hispanic Asians) in the non-institutionalized U.S. population,” the authors write.

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