HBV Elimination Programs Moving Forward

Iran has pledged to eradicate HBV by 2030.Iran has pledged to eradicate HBV by 2030.

The prevalence of hepatitis B is almost zero among Iranians under the age of 23, which health officials attribute to the implementation of the national immunization program that started in 1993 for infants and high-risk age groups.

Furthermore, “the rate is not high among people under the age of 27…The highest prevalence has been observed in the 27-50 age bracket,” Dr. Moayed Alavian, head of Iran Hepatitis Network, was quoted by as saying.

At present the prevalence rate of the disease is 1.2% in Tehran Province. Two provinces with the highest rate of infection are Golestan and Sistan-Baluchestan (2%).

“It is estimated that 1.4 million Iranians are infected with hepatitis B virus,” he said.

Elaborating on the measures taken to eliminate the disease in Iran, Alavian said each year thousands of prisoners are vaccinated against the disease.

“This year the network plans to provide free vaccination to 100,000-200,000 regular blood donors free of charge,” he said.

The IHN and Health Ministry plan to import a new drug, called tenofovir alafenamide or TAF, to treat the disease by the end of the current fiscal year in March 2018.

In November 2016, the antiviral was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for treatment of chronic HBV infection. The medication can help fight the virus and slow its damage to the liver.

TAF (25 mg) is a once-daily treatment for adults suffering from the infection. It is  stronger than previous medicine, having the same effect as older drugs but with a dose less than one-tenth of previously administered medicines.

“It also has fewer side-effects,” he said.

Tenofovir is also placed on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, the most effective and safe medicines needed in a health system.

According to the Health Ministry, the cost for HBV treatment is around 6.8 million rials ($170) per month.

  Geographical Distribution

As a member of the WHO, Iran has pledged to eliminate hepatitis B and C as public health challenges by 2030. The Health Ministry and IHN schemes are in line with that goal.

Hepatitis B is a viral infection that attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic disease. It is estimated that globally about 780,000 people die each year due to consequences of hepatitis B, such as liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.

The virus is highly contagious and is transmitted through contact with blood or other body fluids of an infected person. Hepatitis B virus can survive outside the body at least 7 days, and is an important occupational hazard for health workers. Hepatitis B is preventable with currently available safe and effective vaccines.


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