ACUTE viral Hepatitis B, considered a severe liver infection, has been eradicated in Cuba in children of 15 years and under, as a result of massive immunization campaigns with the national Heberbiovac HB vaccine, which provides lifelong protection and is produced by the Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Center.
Not one case of Hepatitis B in the pediatric age group has been reported in the last 23 years, Dr. Maira Fonte Reyes, a specialist in Hygiene and Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases, told Granma.
During the same period, acute viral Hepatitis B has reduced its incidence in the country by 99.04%, which means that while 2,194 people were notified as suffering from the disease in 1989, by the end of 2011 just 21 cases were reported, all of them patients over 30 years of age.
Hepatitis B is one of five viruses identified to date that cause inflammation of the liver, which can become chronic when acquired at an early age, thus leading to acute liver insufficiency, cirrhosis and cancer.
Immunization campaigns against Hepatitis B for all infants at birth began in 1992, and these were later extended to students and risk groups such as workers in the health sector and patients on dialysis, among others, and the entire population under 30 years of age is currently vaccinated against the disease.
Given that the infection is acquired through direct contact with blood and other body fluids such as semen, Heberbiovac HB is administered in immunization centers to all persons aged 31 and over who have not been previously vaccinated, after confirmation that they are not carriers of the Hepatitis B virus.