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Epidemiol Health. 2015;37(1):e2015055. English. Original Article.
Lee H , Lee H , Cho Y , Oh K , Ki M .
Division of Health and Nutrition Survey, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cheongju, Korea.
Department of Cancer Control and Policy, Graduate School of Cancer Science and Policy, National Cancer Center, Goyang, Korea.

OBJECTIVES: This study investigated changes in hepatitis B seroprevalence from 1998 to 2013, and to identify differences in epidemiologic characteristics between hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)-positive and HBsAg-negative people. METHODS: HBsAg seropositive rates were compared by year, sex, and age using the blood test data from the periods I to VI (1998-2013) of the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Interviews and self-administered surveys were conducted to collect data on health behavior, quality of life, comorbidities, and health care utilization. RESULTS: HBsAg seropositive rates in the Republic of Korea decreased from 4.6% in 1998 to 2.9% in 2008, and then remained the same for the next five years. While seropositive rates by age were the highest at 35 to 39 years of age in 1998, it peaked at 50 to 54 years of age in 2013. HBsAg-positive people showed high values from two liver function tests, including glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase and glutamic-pyruvic transaminase, and the prevalence rates of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer were also significantly high. Indices for health behavior and quality of life showed no significant differences between HBsAg-positive and HBsAg-negative people. CONCLUSIONS: While HBsAg seropositive rates tended to decline after 1998, there have been no significant changes over the most recent five years. We should focus on treatment of existing hepatitis B patients along with immunization programmes to prevent new hepatitis B infections. In addition, it may be necessary to encourage HBsAg-positive people to follow healthier life-styles in order to prevent further progression of hepatitis B to liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.

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