Estimates of HBV carrier numbers in Japan released
medwireNews: Japanese researchers have generated a nationwide estimate of total numbers of hepatitis B virus (HBV) carriers and treated patients in 2011, comparing it with earlier estimates from 2000.
They explain that such data are crucial to assess the effectiveness of countermeasures against hepatitis and identify the areas that perhaps need additional measures.
Using epidemiologic data and national reports, Junko Tanaka, from Hiroshima University, and colleagues estimated that the total number of individuals with viral hepatitis in 2011 was between 2,090,128 and 2,840,128, which was lower than the 2000 estimate of 3,012,706–3,662,706. The corresponding estimates for individuals with HBV were 1,118,627–1,268,627 and 1,317,752–1,467,752.
Based on age-, sex-, and region-specific prevalence data, they estimated that the number of viral hepatitis carriers who were undiagnosed was 776,826 in 2011 compared with 2,402,706–3,052,706 in 2000, of which the undiagnosed HBV cases were estimated at 481,470 and 1,217,752–1,367,752, respectively.
And according to healthcare insurance data, the number of patients receiving treatment in the in- or outpatient setting was higher in 2011 than 2000, at 811,588 and 610,000 (HBV: 303,366 and 100,000), respectively.
Taken together, these trends suggest that “hepatitis virus screening and its surveillance were successfully operating and that the current strategic plans and [the ‘Basic Act on Hepatitis Measures’] were very effective for hepatitis virus prevention and control,” the team writes in the Journal of Viral Hepatitis.
However, other study findings point to the need for further education and awareness campaigns. Specifically, Tanaka et al believe that the number of viral hepatitis carriers who are aware of their status but have not sought consultation or have stopped treatment has gradually increased to an “unexpectedly high” estimate of 501,714–1,251,714 (HBV: 333,791–483,791).
“[M]any carriers shirk consultation for many reasons, such as patients’ misunderstanding, lack of awareness and forgetfulness of their positive status,” they say, and recommend the initiation of awareness campaigns using mass media outlets, including television, websites, and pamphlets.
Additionally, “more effort should be invested in improving the referral system from screening centres to core hospitals,” the study authors remark.
Between 2000 and 2011, the total number of deaths due to any cause was estimated at 375,777–610,200, of which 145,027–199,125 were HBV carriers. And the number of new infections over this period was 54,645 (HBV: 21,184).
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