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Beginning of the End of Hepatitis B in Australia?

A vaccination program first introduced for newborn Aboriginal infants in the Northern Territory of Australia has made a significant impact in efforts to eradicate chronic hepatitis B infection in Australia. Researchers from the University of New South Wales’s (UNSW) Kirby Institute and the Northern Territory’s Department of Health have published a study in the international journal Vaccine, demonstrating that rates of hepatitis B infection are 80 percent lower in young Aboriginal women born since the program began in 1988, in comparison to those born before the program was instituted. For Aboriginal women in remote communities, the UNSW-Northern Territory Department of Health study shows that rates of infection have fallen from 5 percent to 1 percent, and researchers feel there will be a similar decline in other Australian states and territories once children vaccinated in 2000 and later are old enough to participate in the hepatitis B testing programs.
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