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Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B virus causes a life-threatening liver infection that often leads to chronic liver disease and puts people at high risk of death from cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. Hepatitis B virus infection is a major global health problem. Worldwide, an estimated two billion people have been infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV), and more than 350 million have chronic (long-term) liver infections.
A vaccine against hepatitis B has been available since 1982. Hepatitis B vaccine is 95% effective in preventing HBV infection and its chronic consequences, and is the first vaccine against a major human cancer. 

The vaccine has an outstanding record of safety and effectiveness. Since 1982, over one billion doses of hepatitis B vaccine have been used worldwide. In many countries where 8% to 15% of children used to become chronically infected with HBV, vaccination has reduced the rate of chronic infection to less than 1% among immunized children.
As at December 2007, 171 countries reported that they had included the hepatitis B vaccine into their national infant immunization programmes (two of these countries reported introducing in part of the country only). 
This is a major increase compared with 31 countries in 1992, the year that the World Health Assembly passed a resolution to recommend global vaccination against hepatitis B.

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