SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2016

New initiative raises Hepatitus B vaccine awareness

A recent study that suggests the hepatitis B vaccine, typically administered at birth, becomes ineffective years later has sparked an initiative to promote the HBV vaccine to protect infants from contracting the virus from a now-unprotected mother.

The study suggests the HBV vaccine may fail during the infant hurdle when the child grows into his or her teenage years. This means the teenager's immune system has no immunological memory towards hepatitis B and the teenager can contract the virus later in life and be unaware. This becomes an issue if that person becomes pregnant, or transmits the virus to a pregnant woman, and unknowingly transfers the virus to an infant during birth.

"Chronic HBV is a major health burden that leads to cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure, shortening lives and placing a huge economic drain on society," Dr. Li-Yu Wang said.

Wang said the HBV vaccine is not 100 percent effective and she and her team and conducting long-term studies of high-risk populations to gain more information about this preventative measure. In the meantime, Blog.Aids.gov has been fighting to increase awareness of the new finding to increase immunization.

Blog.Aids.gov began its initiative in May through its Hepatitis Awareness Month and has been successful in making the public aware of the danger of hepatitis B. The site reported the risks of developing HBV have decreased by 82 percent. Officials would like to continue to see that risk factor decrease.