Hepatitis B Education Day Marked in Shanghai

Get vaccinated. Be careful with whom you make love.

That was the message hundreds of Shanghai local residents got on Sunday as the city Health Bureau and local doctors promoted China's Hepatitis B Education Day, city officials said.

Consultations were available on Nanjing Road Pedestrian Mall and at other locations throughout the city.

Hepatitis B is a form of hepatitis caused by a DNA virus that lingers in the blood and has a long incubation period. It is usually transmitted by sexual contact and injection or ingestion of infected blood or other bodily fluids.

But in China, hepatitis B is spread mainly by infected mothers to their newborn children, doctors said. "Those infected at a very young age are more likely to develop a serious, chronic infection," said Yang Jianjun, spokesman for the city Health Bureau's Division of Diseases Control.

So newborns and children must be the focus of any program to combat hepatitis B, added Dr. Wu Shanmin of Shanghai Infectious Diseases Hospital.

Since 1986, more than 700,000 local children have received the hepatitis-B vaccination.

"Now, more than 95 percent of new-borns and 90 percent of youngsters have been vaccinated," Yang said. "The rate of infection among children has decreased from 7 percent to 1 percent, which means the program has been successful."

According to city health officials, hepatitis B is prevalent in China. Since 1949, about 700 million Chinese have suffered from the disease, and now there are 120 million hepatitis-B carriers nationwide, they said. An estimated 20 percent will suffer from chronic liver damage, including cancer of the liver, health officials said.

In Shanghai, 7 million people have suffered from hepatitis B since 1949, health officials said.

Each year, an estimated 2,000 people in Shanghai become infected with hepatitis B, said city health officials.

(eastday.com 09/18/2001)

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