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Support World Hepatitis Day on July 28: Protect Our Livers from Damage.

  • Data Source:Ministry of Health and Welfare
  • Created:2014-07-26
  • Last Updated:2017-01-11

The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated July 28 as World Hepatitis Day. This year (2014) World Hepatitis Day was observed with the promotional theme of “Think Again” as the WHO urged people to think again about viral hepatitis, which is a silent killer. It also urged an increase in prevention, screening, and control of hepatitis-related diseases, integrating vaccination projects in each country, increasing hepatitis B vaccination coverage and joining hands around the world to combat hepatitis. 
Kuo Hsu-sung, Director-General of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), stated during a press conference held by the Taiwan Children Liver Foundation on July 26 for the Dear Mommies’ Darling Babies campaign that Taiwan has maintained a hepatitis B vaccination policy for the last 30 years. With efforts from all sectors, especially in preventing vertical transmission from mother to child, the hepatitis B virus (HBV) carrier rate has greatly declined among Taiwanese people. Kuo then urged expectant mothers to take hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) tests during prenatal examinations as soon as possible. All newborns should also receive the hepatitis B vaccine shortly after their birth as required. Moreover, people infected with hepatitis B or C will be able to effectively control their conditions as long as they follow the procedures for screening, tracking, and treatment on a regular basis. 
In 1984, Taiwan carried out an extensive hepatitis B vaccination project among infants and toddlers, which is a first in the world. This project efficiently prevented mother-to-child transmission, drastically reducing the HBV carrier rate among young children from 10.5% before the project to 0.8%, lowering the incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma in children from 0.52/100,000 to 0.13/100,000, and reducing the percentage of pregnant women who were HBsAg positive from 17.2% to 8.1% and the percentage of pregnant women who were HBeAg positive from 6.8% to 1.5%. Thus, the HBV carrier rate has greatly dropped in Taiwan. 

According to the CDC, numerous measures have been implemented for the prevention, screening, and control of hepatitis B and C in Taiwan: 
1. All newborns must receive the first dose of hepatitis B vaccine within 24 hours after their birth; babies born to mothers who are HBeAg positive also need to receive hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG). 
2. To prevent children from becoming hepatitis B carriers due to mother-to-child transmission and begin tracking as early as possible, young children (born in and after July 2008) whose mothers are HBeAg positive and who are 12 months old have been provided with screenings for HBV since September 2010. Young children who do not carry HBV and have no antibodies may receive the hepatitis B vaccine for free. 
3. Women of childbearing age who meet the criteria for the Chronic Hepatitis B and C Treatment Program covered by health insurance may also receive the treatment as soon as possible to reduce the opportunity to vertically transmit HBV to their fetuses. 
4. People who do not carry HBV and lack antibodies against hepatitis B may be vaccinated at their own expense in order to receive protection. 
5. Carriers of hepatitis B and C are advised to avoid unsafe sex, unclean needles when getting a tattoo, ear piercings, and sharing needles and personal items such as toothbrushes and razors. 
6. People who are infected with chronic hepatitis B or C should receive periodic examinations and treatment as soon as possible to reduce the risks of liver cirrhosis, hepatitis, and transmission of hepatitis in the future. 

Every year approximately 1.4 million people all over the world die from acute and chronic hepatitis induced by various types of hepatitis viruses. According to estimates, about 2.5 million adults carry HBV in Taiwan, accounting for 15% of the population. The hepatitis C infection rate is 4-5%, equivalent to 400,000 to 700,000 people. About 13,000 people die from hepatitis-related diseases each year. These estimates show that hepatitis poses a significant threat to health. For information about hepatitis B and C, please visit the CDC’s website ( or dial the domestic toll-free epidemic prevention hotline, 1922 (or 0800-001922).