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L James, CW Fong, BH Foong, MK Wee, A Chow, E Shum, SK Chew
Correspondence: Dr L James, Lyn_JAMES@moh.gov.sg
Hepatitis B is a disease of public health importance in Singapore. A study was conducted in 1999 to estimate the overall and gender-, age- and ethnic-specific prevalence of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) and antibody to hepatitis B surface antigen in the Singapore population. A cross-sectional sample of the Singapore population constituting 4,698 Singapore residents aged 18-69 years was surveyed. This was the first time a large-scale study has been conducted to assess the hepatitis B seroprevalence rates in the Singapore population. The overall prevalence of the HBsAg in the general population was estimated to be about 4%. About 13% of the HBsAg carriers were also HBeAg positive. Only about 40% of the population had immunity to hepatitis B virus either through immunisation or from previous exposure to the virus. There was still a large proportion (60%) of the population who had no immunity, especially the younger age group of 18-29 years where only 28% had immunity. There is a need to strengthen the hepatitis B immunisation programme to reach out to those who have no immunity, especially the young adults.
Keywords: Hepatitis B, Seroprevalence, Control, Immunisation, Singapore
Singapore Med J 2001; 42(9): 420-424