The prevalence of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) carriers among blood donors in Israel during 1988 was compared with that in a similar survey carried out on donors during 1972. The overall age-and sex-standardized prevalence of HBsAg declined from 1.22% to 1.01%. The ethnic differences previously observed were much diminished in native Israelis. The age of highest prevalence shifted from 18-21 to 31-40 years of age, probably due to a cohort effect. The higher prevalence among males has persisted. These findings indicate that the strong ethnic differences in the prevalence of HBsAg previously observed in Israel probably reflect the high rate of infections in the country of birth, and although intra-family spread may have persisted, the overall infection rate in Israel is much lower.
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