Objective: Data from 2 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES), NHANES II (1976-1980) and NHANES III (1988-1994), were analyzed to examine trends in the prevalence of hepatitis B infection in the United States.
Methods: Serum specimens were tested for markers of hepatitis B virus infection, and risk factors were determined from questionnaires.
Results: The overall age-adjusted prevalence of hepatitis B virus infection was 5.5% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 4.8, 6.2) in NHANES II, as compared with 4.9% (95% CI = 4.3, 5.6) in NHANES III. In both surveys, Black participants had the highest prevalence of infection (NHANES II, 15.8%; NHANES III, 11.9%). No differences in infection were found in the major racial groups between surveys, except for a decrease among those older than 50 years. Black race, increasing number of lifetime sexual partners, and foreign birth had the strongest independent associations with hepatitis B virus infection.
Conclusions: Testing of participants in 2 national surveys demonstrates no significant decrease in hepatitis B virus infection, despite the availability of hepatitis B vaccine.