The incidence of acute hepatitis B infection remains low in England, with the majority of cases reported in men, newly published data for 2017 show.
Public Health England (PHE) centres reported 4,762 hepatitis B cases from 1 January to 31 December 2017, while 9,774 confirmed cases were reported from laboratories in Wales and England (SGSS) in the same period.
After the two databases were linked and reconciled, a total of 445 acute or probable acute cases of hepatitis B were reported for England in 2017, giving an annual incidence of 0.80 per 100,000 population compared to 0.82 per 100,000 population reported for 2016.
As in previous years, where known, the majority of cases were in men (70.4%), giving an overall incidence of 1.14 per 100,000 - an increase from 1.09 per 100,000 in 2016. The corresponding incidence in women in 2017 was 0.47 per 100,000 - a decrease from 0.55 per 100,000 in the previous year. Men aged 25-34 years had the highest incidence of acute hepatitis B in 2017 at 1.97 per 100,000.
Of the total 445 cases, 124 (27.9%) had associated exposure information recorded, lower than in 2016 (36%, 164/453).
The commonest reported risk was heterosexual exposure, reported in 54.8 per cent of cases in 2017 compared to 64.6 per cent in 2016. More than 15 per cent of cases in 2017 were attributed to sex between men compared to 14 per cent in 2016. There were no cases attributed to IV drug use in 2017 (7.3% in 2016).
Nine (7.26%) cases in 2017 had healthcare-related exposure (including surgery, dental treatment, and other hospital exposure). Skin piercing or tattooing was listed as probable exposures for four cases in 2017 (3.3%).