Hepatitis B Infections Sharply Rising in Appalachian States — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
January 29, 2016

Hepatitis B Infections Sharply Rising in Appalachian States

By Cara Adler

Edited by André Sofair, MD, MPH, and William E. Chavey, MD, MS

Acute hepatitis B virus infections more than doubled in three Appalachian states from 2009 to 2013, while remaining stable in the country as a whole, according to an MMWR article.

Researchers used national disease surveillance data to determine the incidence of HBV infections in Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia from 2006 to 2013. Incidence increased 114% during this period, with the rise starting in 2009. Comparing the periods before and after 2009, the researchers found that the increase occurred among non-Hispanic whites, individuals aged 30 to 39 years, injection drug users, and residents of more rural counties.

The authors attribute the rise in HBV infections to a concurrent increase in injection drug use in this population and to low hepatitis B vaccination rates among young adults. HBV testing, education, and vaccination programs targeted toward injection drug users are among the prevention strategies the authors recommend — some of these strategies have already been implemented in the three states.

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