(HealthDay News) – Implementation of a national hepatitis B virus (HBV) immunization program in Taiwan correlated with reductions in infant fulminant hepatitis (IFH), chronic liver disease (CLD), and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) mortality, and with HCC incidence, according to a research letter published in the Sept. 4 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Chun-Ju Chiang, PhD, from the National Taiwan University in Taipei, and colleagues assessed the 30-year outcomes of the HBV immunization program, introduced to Taiwan in July 1984. Using data from the National Death Certificate Database and the National Cancer Registry Database, the mortality of IFH, CLD, and HCC and incidence of HCC were compared for birth cohorts before and after launch of the immunization program.

The researchers found that there was a significant decrease in the IFH mortality rates and sex-adjusted rate ratios from 1977–1980 to 2009–2011. The greatest declines coincided with the launch of the immunization program (1981–1984 to 1985–1988) and with the change to recombinant vaccines in 1992 (1989–1992 to 1993–1996). Following implementation of the program, there was a continuous decline in the age- and sex-adjusted rate ratios of CLD and HCC mortality, and HCC incidence.

“The mortality of IFH in vaccinated birth cohorts decreased by >90% from 1977–1980 to 2009–2011,” the authors write. “From 1977–1980 to 2001–2004, the age- and sex-adjusted rate ratios for individuals aged 5–29 years decreased by >90% for CLD and HCC mortality and by >80% for HCC incidence.”

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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