OBJECTIVE:

To compare the cost-effectiveness of hepatitis B virus (HBV) control strategies combining universal vaccination with hepatitis B immunoglobulin (HBIG) treatment for neonates of carrier mothers.

METHODS:

Drawing on Taiwan's experience, we developed a decision-analytic model to estimate the clinical and economic outcomes for 4 strategies: (1) strategy V—universal vaccination; (2) strategy S—V plus screening for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and HBIG treatment for HBsAg-positive mothers' neonates; (3) strategy E—V plus screening for hepatitis B e-antigen (HBeAg), HBIG for HBeAg-positive mothers' neonates; (4) strategy S&E—V plus screening for HBsAg then HBeAg, HBIG for all HBeAg-positive, and some HBeAg-negative/HBsAg-positive mothers' neonates.

RESULTS:

Strategy S averted the most infections, followed by S&E, E, and V. In most cases, the more effective strategies were also more costly. The willingness-to-pay (WTP) above which strategy S was cost-effective rose as carrier rate declined and was <$4000 per infection averted for carrier rates >5%. The WTP below which strategy V was optimal also increased as carrier rate declined, from $1400 at 30% carrier rate to $3100 at 5% carrier rate. Strategies involving E were optimal for an intermediate range of WTP that narrowed as carrier rate declined.

CONCLUSIONS:

HBIG treatment for neonates of HBsAg carrier mothers is likely to be a cost-effective addition to universal vaccination, particularly in settings with adequate health care infrastructure. Targeting HBIG to neonates of higher risk HBeAg-positive mothers may be preferred where WTP is moderate. However, in very resource-limited settings, universal vaccination alone is optimal.

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