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Hepatitis

Volume 476: debated on Monday 2 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether a registered medical practitioner is required to notify the Health Protection Agency about patients with the hepatitis B virus; and if he will make a statement. (207178)

Viral hepatitis is a statutorily notifiable infectious disease i.e. the clinician suspecting the diagnosis is required to notify the proper officer of the local authority, usually the consultant in communicable disease control.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what information the Health Protection Agency collects on the source of the hepatitis B virus in cases of sexual exposure; and if he will make a statement. (207179)

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) receives laboratory reports of cases of hepatitis B as well as receiving notifications.

At local level, each health protection unit collects and collates data on demographic, clinical, laboratory and risk factor data for cases of acute hepatitis B.

The risk factors for hepatitis B include:

injecting drug use;

sexual contact (sex between men and sex between men and women);

receipt of blood transfusion/blood product;

acupuncture/tattooing/body piercing;

dialysis, surgical or dental procedure; and

other.

Collection of this information largely depends upon the reporting doctors and the laboratories reporting the cases.

The HPA has drawn up ‘Standards for Local Surveillance and Follow-Up Of Cases of Hepatitis B And Hepatitis C’, which includes a minimum dataset, copies have been placed in the Library and are also available at:

www.hpa.org.uk/web/HPAwebFile/HPAweb_C/1194947376936

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what plans he has to immunise babies against hepatitis B; and if he will make a statement; (207182)

(2) what the criteria are for the immunisation of (a) adults and (b) children against the hepatitis B virus; whether he plans to change these criteria; and if he will make a statement.

Hepatitis B vaccine is not currently recommended for universal childhood immunisation in the United Kingdom. This is because the UK has a low incidence of hepatitis B.

The current recommendation for hepatitis B immunisation is to offer the vaccine selectively to individuals at high risk of exposure to the hepatitis B virus because of their lifestyle, occupation or other factors (such as close contact with cases/carriers), and to children born to hepatitis B positive mothers.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is currently reviewing the evidence regarding the use of hepatitis B vaccines.