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Hepatitis more common among students
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Only 30 percent of China's college students have been inoculated against hepatitis B, leading to a higher-than-average infection rate, a health expert said yesterday.

Yang Xizhong, secretary general of the Chinese Foundation for Hepatitis Prevention and Control, said at a workshop on hepatitis prevention in Jiangsu Province that more than 9 percent of Chinese college students were infected with the disease, according to a six-month nationwide survey on 729,000 students from 59 colleges.

The infection rate topped 10 percent in some provinces such as Jiangxi, Guangdong, Hubei and Fujian, while the average hepatitis B infection rate among those aged 15 to 59 in China was about 8.57 percent, Yang said.

Yang attributed the slightly higher-than-average infection rate among college students mainly to lack of disease-prevention awareness.

"Although inoculation is the most effective way to ward off hepatitis B infection, only 30 percent of the students were inoculated," Yang said.

He said college students were "a high-risk population for hepatitis B due to their sexual activeness. They should be the focus of the hepatitis B prevention work," he said.

Yang urged authorities to strengthen education of hepatitis B prevention among college students, and to give more support to inoculation against the disease.

By April 2008, China reported about 93 million people carrying hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), the earliest indicator of acute hepatitis B, which frequently identifies infected people before symptoms appear.

Hepatitis B can cause liver inflammation, vomiting, and jaundice.

Chronic hepatitis B may eventually cause liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.

(Xinhua News Agency May 11, 2009)

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