The Battle Against Hepatitis B

Examining the Effects of the Hepatitis B Virus in China

Reviewed by Jong In (Jim) Yoon
February 28, 2014

“The Battle Against Hepatitis B: Evaluating the Impact of Treatment and Prevention of Hepatitis B in China from the 1990s to the 2000s” by Ruoxi Yu of Yale University, analyzes the success of preventing the Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) through vaccinations of infants, but recognizes that there is work to be done in vaccinating those in rural, poor areas, and treating and eliminating discrimination against those already infected with the virus.

Yu begins the paper by stating that the HBV has been a huge problem in China for the last decade or so, citing that there are millions in China today that carry this virus and that the HBV virus, if not properly treated, can lead to permanent damage to the liver. In response to this problem, the Ministry of Health in China issued the “National Hepatitis B Immunization Plan” in 1992, which helped to some extent, but due to the cost and supply shortage of the vaccines and little public awareness of the vaccine, this plan had little success. However, the Chinese government finally issued the “Regulation on Vaccine Circulation and Immunization Management” in 2005 that mandated that all infants born after June 1st, 2005 would be vaccinated. This had the effect of drastically reducing the number of infants who carried this disease.

However, there are still issues that need to be addressed. While vaccination of infants and future generations of Chinese people have been successful, there are still millions who carry this virus that require proper medical treatment. Yu says that China is not currently up-to-date on the latest antivirals that have been tested to be the best remedy against HBV. Furthermore, there is a bias in Chinese society against those that carry HBV; they are discriminated against in schools, when seeking employment, and in other areas of life. Yu argues that there needs to more public awareness and insight into the HBV virus to phase out discrimination and to make sure that those that carry the virus can be properly treated.

The paper concludes by stating that despite the progress that has been made to protect the future generation of China from the HBV virus, those currently suffering from the virus need better medicine and better care in hospitals. Ultimately, Yu states that the goal should be for all Chinese citizens to either be prevented from HBV in the first place, or to have access to affordable care to treat HPV.

Click here to view the full paper.


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