China touts hepatitis B immunization success

China credited its national immunization program on Tuesday for protecting approximately 80 million people from being infected with the hepatitis B virus since 1992.
The virus was first brought into the program  in 1992, Xinhua reports. Wang Bin, the deputy director of the disease prevention bureau under the ministry, said that inoculations also helped to prevent 19 million additional children from becoming carriers of the surface antigen of hepatitis B.
The surface antigen HBsAg is an early indicator of acute hepatitis B. Close to 93 million Chinese are HBV carriers, which accounts for more than a quarter of the world's total cases. Job hunters in China have long complained of discrimination on the grounds of them having the disease.
In 2005, the government issued a health standard including hepatitis B carriers among eligible candidates for the civil service. According to the standard, carriers of hepatitis B are eligible to work for the government as long as infection does not progress to the disease stage. Xinhua reports.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease that can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness. Acute hepatitis B virus infection is a short-term illness that occurs within the first six months after someone is exposed to the virus. Chronic hepatitis B is a long-term illness that occurs when the virus remains in a person's body.