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New Recommendation Statement on Hepatitis B Screening for High-Risk Adults

Vaccination protects most people in U.S. (February 11)

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has posted its draft recommendation statement and draft evidence report on screening for hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection.

After reviewing the evidence, the task force recommends screening people who have the following risk factors for hepatitis B:

  • People who were born in countries and regions with a high prevalence of HBV infection, such as Africa, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and the northern countries in South America.
  • U.S.-born persons not vaccinated as infants whose parents were born in regions with a high prevalence of HBV infection.
  • People who are human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive, injection drug users, and men who have sex with men.
  • Patients who have a weakened immune system or undergo hemodialysis for kidney failure.

The most important way to prevent HBV infection is to get vaccinated, the task force says.

“The United States has universal vaccination of all infants at birth, catch-up vaccination of adolescents, and vaccination of high-risk groups. Fortunately, most people in the U.S. are no longer at risk of getting hepatitis B,” said task force member Mark Ebell, MD, MS. “Because some countries have high rates of HBV infection, it is important for immigrants from those countries and their doctors to be aware of their risk status and screen them if appropriate.”

Source: USPSTF; February 11, 2014.

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