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ONE IN THREE SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASE PATIENTS INFECTED WITH HEPATITIS B

 ONE IN THREE SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASE PATIENTS
 INFECTED WITH HEPATITIS B
 NEW YORK, Dec. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- A demonstration project by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) revealed that approximately 30 percent of patients at sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinics were infected by the hepatitis B virus (HBV), according to a recent report in The Journal of the American Medical Association.
 This finding reinforces the need to vaccinate sexually active adults, defined as those with more than one partner in a six-month period and those previously or currently diagnosed with another STD. Although the CDC has recommended hepatitis B vaccination for this group, which numbers at least 10 million in the U.S., less than one percent have been vaccinated. On Thursday, the CDC recommended immunizing all newborns against hepatitis B to eventually stop the disease's spread in the U.S. Officials concede that it will take twenty years for the benefits of this strategy to be realized, since hepatitis B strikes primarily young adults in this country.
 According to the CDC, the incidence of hepatitis B increased 77 percent among sexually active heterosexuals in the past decade. Total cases have increased 50 percent; 300,000 are infected in the U.S. every year, and another 5,000 die from hepatitis B-related cirrhosis and liver cancer.
 "We must do more to vaccinate sexually active adults who aren't aware of the dangers of this debilitating and potentially deadly virus," said William Schaffner, M.D., a preventive medicine specialist from Vanderbilt University, Nashville, and member of the CDC's Immunization Practices Advisory Committee (ACIP). "It should be part of every physician's practice to vaccinate each patient with another STD against hepatitis B."
 Hepatitis B is the leading reported vaccine-preventable disease in the U.S., accounting for more reported cases than measles, mumps and rubella combined. One of the leading reasons contributing to low vaccination levels among adults is that "opportunities to vaccinate adults are frequently missed during contacts with health-care providers in offices, outpatient clinics, and hospitals," according to the CDC report.
 -0- 12/23/91
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KD-KW -- NY051 -- 4873 12/23/91 13:42 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Dec 23, 1991
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