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This is an update revision of the Report on the Surveillance of Viral hepatitis in Hong Kong published last year by the Scientific Working Group on Viral Hepatitis Prevention.

As knowledge of viral hepatitis accumulates, so do data on the local scene of viral hepatitis. The prevalent genotypes of hepatitis C, for instance, have been further clarified this year, thanks to the work of LE Prescott et al. Attempts are under way to ascertain the prevalence of hepatitis A in different groups of the population. Results from a new, large-scale study on the prevalence of hepatitis B in police officers helped confirm the notion that the carrier rate of HBsAg was in a declining trend. Another study on hepatitis B also shed light on the reason why antenatal women have an unusually high carrier rate of HBsAg in Hong Kong.

Apart from these new studies, data from established sources continued to accumulate. While they might not point to any new development of epidemiologic trends, the Scientific Working Group on Viral Hepatitis feels that a revision of the Report is essential, both to incorporate results of new studies, and to update on the various established sources of epidemiologic information.

To this end, the Group was particularly impressed by the enthusiastic response of the many workers in this field who had been working diligently over the years. Their dedication to the pursuit of knowledge was exemplary. Many data were provided to us even before they were published. To them we are greatly indebted.

In particular, we thank the Cancer Crusade Angels Service Society of Hong Kong, the Departments of Medicine of Hong Kong and the Chinese University, the Virus Unit and AIDS Unit of the Department of Health, the Hong Kong Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service, the Family Planning Association, and the Health Services of Hong Kong University, the Chinese University and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. Without their input, this Report would not have materialized at all.

Much as we tried to make this update thorough and accurate, we perfectly understand the possibility of oversight. Any comment or criticism from our readers is welcome and strongly encouraged.

Scientific Working Group on Viral Hepatitis
June 1997