Control of hepatitis B virus among alaskan natives



In 1983, a comprehensive programme was introduced to halt the spread of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and to reduce mortality from hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in Alaskan Natives, in whom the incidence of HBV infection was high. This programme includes: serological screening of all Alaskan Natives; immunization of susceptible persons, including all newborn babies, with hepatitis B vaccine; and testing HBsAg-positive carriers twice a year for α-fetoprotein (AFP) to detect HCC at an early stage. By October, 1986, over 53,000 Alaskan Natives (84% of the total Native population) had been tested for HBV serological markers and 80% of the identified susceptibles had been or were being vaccinated against HBV. After complete immunization of 90% of the susceptibles in the area with the highest infection rates in Alaska, the annual incidence of acute symptomatic HBV infection decreased from 215 to 14 cases per 100,000 population. After the introduction of AFP screening, the 1-year-case-fatality rate for HCC fell from 100% to 50%.