Published online Aug 28, 2015. doi: 10.4254/wjh.v7.i18.2127
Peer-review started: May 9, 2015
First decision: July 6, 2015
Revised: July 23, 2015
Accepted: July 29, 2015
Article in press: August 3, 2015
Published online: August 28, 2015
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) continues to represent a major health problem and can lead to acute liver failure, acute hepatitis, chronic carriership, chronic hepatitis of HBV, liver cirrhosis, liver cancer, liver transplantation and death. There is a marked difference in the geographic distribution of carriers. More than 240 million people worldwide are chronic HBV carriers. Mother-to-child transmission remains the most important mechanism of infection in countries with a high prevalence of HBV. Percutaneous/parenteral transmission and unsafe sexual practices are important mode of spread transmission of HBV in other countries. Vaccination against HBV is the gold measure for primary prevention and control of the disease. Currently, 179 countries have added HBV vaccination to their routine vaccination programs with great results. Neonatal immunization with HBV vaccine has been one of the most highly effective measures in public health and the first anti-cancer program to be launched. In this paper we review the achievements for the last three decades.
Core tip: It is now 50 years since the discovery of the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Effective vaccines have been available since the 80s and vaccination has proved to confer lifelong protection against hepatitis B and was highly successful in reducing the disease burden. However, the occurrence of breakthrough infections, the immunological effect of natural boosting and the effectiveness of universal hepatitis B vaccination remains a challenge. The fight against HBV is not over yet, but the broad use of vaccination is the cornerstone and the most important measure to control HBV and all its consequences.