To accelerate the decline of Helicobacter pylori infection, and to study the significance of the possible risk factors for H. pylori infection in Finland, we started a voluntary H. pylori"screen-treat-retest-and-retreat" program for all young adults at primary health care in Vammala, Finland after a pilot study in 1994 including 504 subjects aged 15-75.
A total of 3326 aged 15-40 in 1996, and 716 aged 15 and 584 aged 45 in 1997-2000 were screened for H. pylori using serology. Helicobacter pylori positive were treated, cure was verified by serology.
The eradication rates were 93.8%, 82.2%, and 77.6% per protocol in pilot study in 1994, in subjects invited in 1996 and 1997-2000, respectively. Helicobacter pylori seroprevalence rates were calculated to have decreased from 36% to 14% in pilot study, from 12% to 4% among subjects invited in 1996, from 3% to 2% among subjects aged 15 and from 27% to 12% among subjects aged 45 in 1997-2000. An epidemiologic questionnaire in 1996 revealed that crowding in the childhood household, low education of the mother, current smoking and alcohol consumption, unfavorable housing conditions, and sick leaves due to dyspepsia were independently associated with H. pylori infection.
This intervention with high participation rates resulted in a significant decline in calculated H. pylori seroprevalence rates. Although the low prevalence of H. pylori infection may limit the cost efficiency of the program, the intervention is expected to reduce the burden of H. pylori-associated diseases.