Background: Between 350 and 400 million people worldwide have chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, and in Italy this figure is 1% to 2% in the general population. In clinical practice, however, it is not known how many patients chronically infected by HBV and eligible for antiviral therapy are not treated. Aim: To characterize the clinical picture of untreated HBV patients, and to assess whether current experts' recommendations for treatment are actually applied. Methods: We evaluated 362 patients chronically infected by HBV alone who were followed for at least 1 year at tertiary referral centers in Liguria region, Italy. Patients' data were evaluated on the basis of the Panel of Experts algorithm for the management of HBV [ie, HBV DNA levels ≥ 20,000 IU/mL in hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg)-positive patients, HBV DNA levels ≥ 2000 IU/mL in HBeAg-negative patients, and evidence of biochemical and/or histologic activity of disease in both groups]. Results: One-hundred and sixteen viremic chronic hepatitis B disease patients were not on antiviral therapy (33 HBeAg positive, 83 HBeAg negative). Serum HBV DNA was ≥ 20,000 IU/mL and ≥ 2000 IU/mL in 32 HBeAg-positive and 54 HBeAg-negative patients, respectively, and disease was present in 59 of these 86 patients. Treatment was not indicated in 10 of 59 patients, and had been planned in 8 (4 HBeAg positive), thus 84% potential treatment candidates (41 of 49 patients) were not treated. Conclusions: Evaluation of a large series of patients chronically infected by HBV alone identified a significant proportion of patients who are actually untreated despite being potential candidates for antiviral therapy.
- Hepatitis B virus
ASJC Scopus subject areas