PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] Although there is an effective vaccine for hepatitis B and public health officials have a strong sense of who is at highest risk for the infectious liver disease, tens of thousands of people in the United States contract the virus every year. According to a new study by researchers at Brown University, missed opportunities to administer the vaccine continue to be a reason why infections persist.
"This is a really simple thing that we could do and if somebody ends up getting the disease because we didn't make the effort then I think that's really a shame," said Brian Montague, assistant professor of medicine in the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and a physician at The Miriam Hospital.
Yet in an analysis published Jan. 12, 2012, in advance online in the journal Infection, senior author Montague and lead author Farah Ladak found that in a nationally representative sample of high-risk adults, 51.4 percent said they were unvaccinated. More than half of them had the potential to receive the vaccine based on their reported contact with health care providers.
The study is based on responses by more than 15,000 adults to the 2007 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, which gathers health information from more than 430,000 people across the United States. The respondents in the study's analysis acknowledged engaging in risk behaviors such as certain sexual practices or needle drug use and could definitively report their hepatitis B status. Previous research has found that more than 95 percent new infections in adults occur among people with such behavioral risk factors.
Montague, Ladak, and their co-authors sought to figure out who among this highly vulnerable population was going unvaccinated and whether and where they could have received the three required shots.
They found that vaccinations were relatively infrequent among adults older than 33 (vaccinat
|Contact: David Orenstein|