Objective: Carriers of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) in Japan were estimated on a national basis. Methods: Sera from the first-time blood donors aged 16–64 years in eight jurisdictions of the Japanese Red Cross Blood Center during 1995–2000 were tested for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and antibody to HCV (anti-HCV). Viremia with HCV was estimated to be present in 70% of donors with anti-HCV. Results: HBsAg was detected in 22,018 of 3,485,648 (0.63%) blood donors including 12,990 of 1,780,149 (0.73%) men and 9,028 of 1,705,499 (0.53%) women, and anti-HCV in 17,010 (0.49%) including 8,504 (0.48%) men and 8,506 (0.50%) women. Multiplying the carrier rate by the population registered in the Census 2000, the total HBV carriers aged 15–65 years were estimated at 967,753 (95% confidence interval 806,760–1,128,745), of whom 571,210 (479,267–663,152) were men and 396,543 (327,494–465,593) were women. Likewise, the total HCV carriers were estimated at 884,954 (95% confidence interval 725,082–1,044,826), of whom 464,363 (377,927–550,799) were men and 420,591 (347,156–494,027) were women. Conclusion: Estimated numbers of HBV and HCV carriers would help plan to prevent the development of hepatocellular carcinoma in Japan.

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