Lasting benefit of infant hepatitis B vaccination in adolescents in the Lao People's Democratic Republic.
- Clinical and Applied Virology
OBJECTIVES: Hepatitis B is endemic in Lao PDR with 8-10% of the adult population being chronically infected. We investigated the impact of hepatitis B vaccination on infection in adolescents born shortly before and after the introduction of the vaccine in 2001. METHODS: 779 students from Vientiane Capital and Bolikhamxay province were tested for HBV markers by ELISA. Socio-demographic information was collected with a standardized questionnaire. Predictors/risk factors for seroprotection or exposure to hepatitis B infection were assessed by bivariate and multivariable analyses. RESULTS: The prevalence of a serological vaccination profile increased significantly after the introduction of the vaccine (13.2%-21.9%, p < 0.05, in Vientiane; 3.0%-19.7%, p < 0.001, in Bolikhamxay), which translated into at least a 2-times lower prevalence of past infection. In logistic regression, older students in Bolikhamxay were less likely to be vaccinated and more likely to have been infected by HBV in the past. CONCLUSION: Even though this study documented a sizable and lasting reduction in past hepatitis B infections in adolescents born after the introduction of infant hepatitis B vaccination, the overall levels of protective anti-HBs were low and warrant at least the introduction of a booster for adolescents. Furthermore, we suggest improving the coverage of the hepatitis B birth dose.