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Acute hepatitis B in Japan: Incidence, clinical practices and health policy


Dr Hideo Yasunaga, Department of Health Management and Policy, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 1138655, Japan. Email:


Aim:  The epidemiology of acute hepatitis B is unknown in many countries, and the clinical features of this disease remain unclear. In this study, we used the Diagnosis Procedure Combination (DPC) database to estimate the incidence of acute hepatitis B and investigate the clinical practices for acute hepatitis B in Japan.

Methods:  The DPC database is a nationwide discharge abstract and administrative claims database, covering 40% of all inpatient admissions to acute care hospitals between 1 July and 31 December each year in Japan. We identified cases with a diagnosis of acute hepatitis B between 2007 and 2008. Patient characteristics, length of stay, in-hospital mortality and total charges were determined. Clinical practice patterns were examined, including drugs used and procedures performed during hospitalization.

Results:  We identified 890 cases with acute hepatitis B among 5.85 million inpatients in the database. The mean age was 40.0 years old and 76% were male. The incidence of acute hepatitis B was estimated to be approximately 2100–2400/year (17–19/1 million people per year). Of 890 cases, 53 (6.0%) developed fulminant hepatitis and 36 (4.0%) died. Nucleos(t)ide analogs were prescribed for 226 cases (25.4%). Only 194 cases (21.8%) were tested for HIV status.

Conclusion:  It is essential to monitor the trends of this communicable and preventable disease. The establishment and distribution of appropriate clinical evidence and guidelines are vital to improve the clinical practices for acute hepatitis B.

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