Acute viral hepatitis A has recently become a major public health problem in Korea, and the incidence of symptomatic hepatitis A is growing rapidly. With improvements in socioeconomic conditions and environmental hygiene, the chances of exposure to hepatitis A virus (HAV) during childhood have decreased and, in turn, the proportion of young adults with positive anti-HAV has significantly decreased. This has led to the incidence of symptomatic acute hepatitis A increasing since the late 1990s. The incidence of serious complications including fulminant hepatic failure and acute kidney injury has also showed an increasing trend. Variation of the genotype of virus isolated from recent hepatitis A patients suggests an inflow of the hepatitis virus from other countries. In this review article, we present the situation and epidemiology of hepatitis A in Korea, and recommend further investigation and policies for vaccination on a national level.
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