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Journal of Viral Hepatitis: Is Chronic Hep B Being Undertreated in the US?

December 08, 2010

A recent article published in the Journal of Viral Hepatitis discusses possible explanations for the disparity between the number of people who are chronically infected with hepatitis B and the number of people who receive treatment.

SUMMARY. Chronic infection with the hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a major risk factor for development of end-stage liver disease, including cirrhosis, liver failure and primary liver cancer. There are now seven antiviral agents approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the management of chronic HBV infection. Despite the fact that there are between 1.4 and 2 million chronic HBV infections in the United States, fewer than 50 000 people per year receive prescriptions for HBV antiviral medications. This report discusses possible explanations for the disparity between the number of people who are chronically infected and the number of people who receive treatment. Explanations for this incongruence include the potentially large number of infected persons who are unscreened and thus remain undiagnosed, and lack of access, including insurance, education and referral to appropriate medical care, particularly for disproportionately infected populations.

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