Prevalence of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in U.S. households: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 1988-2012

Hepatology. 2016 Feb;63(2):388-97. doi: 10.1002/hep.28109. Epub 2015 Oct 27.


The number of persons with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in the United States is affected by diminishing numbers of young persons who are susceptible because of universal infant vaccination since 1991, offset by numbers of HBV-infected persons migrating to the United States from endemic countries. The prevalence of HBV infection was determined by serological testing and analysis among noninstitutionalized persons age 6 years and older for: antibody to hepatitis B core antigen (anti-HBc), indicative of previous HBV infection; hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), indicative of chronic (current) infection; and antibody to hepatitis B surface antigen (anti-HBs), indicative of immunity from vaccination. These prevalence estimates were analyzed in three periods of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES): 1988-1994 (21,260 persons); 1999-2008 (29,828); and 2007-2012 (22,358). In 2011-2012, for the first time, non-Hispanic Asians were oversampled in NHANES. For the most recent period (2007-2012), 3.9% had anti-HBc, indicating approximately 10.8 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 9.4-12.2) million noninstitutionalized U.S. residents having ever been infected with HBV. The overall prevalence of chronic HBV infection has remained constant since 1999: 0.3% (95% CI: 0.2-0.4), and since 1999, prevalence of chronic HBV infection among non-Hispanic blacks has been 2- to 3-fold greater than the general population. An estimated 3.1% (1.8%-5.2%) of non-Hispanic Asians were chronically infected with HBV during 2011-2012, which reflects a 10-fold greater prevalence than the general population. Adjusted prevalence of vaccine-induced immunity increased 16% since 1999, and the number of persons (mainly young) with serological evidence of vaccine protection from HBV infection rose from 57.8 (95% CI: 55.4-60.1) million to 68.5 (95% CI: 65.4-71.2) million.

Conclusion: Despite increasing immune protection in young persons vaccinated in infancy, an analysis of chronic hepatitis B prevalence in racial and ethnic populations indicates that during 2011-2012, there were 847,000 HBV infections (which included ~400,000 non-Hispanic Asians) in the noninstitutionalized U.S. POPULATION.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Female
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Prevalence
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult