Health Affairs: Early Treatment of HBV Saves Lives, Money

February 03, 2011

Chronic hepatitis B affects between 800,000 and two million people in the United States and causes 4,000 deaths each year. Yet the costs and benefits of treatment have not been fully evaluated. Using a model that simulates disease progression, we compare treatment programs for hepatitis B that start at an early stage of the disease to treatment that begins at a late stage. Our analysis concludes that early hepatitis B care can improve health, reduce premature deaths, and prevent expensive complications, making it highly cost-effective in the long term. Our results demonstrate the importance of screening for hepatitis B among at-risk groups and then linking screening to treatment. They also illustrate how predictive models can be used to evaluate strategies for improving access to care.

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