Many people with chronic hepatitis B virus infection have infrequent medical monitoring, according to US research published in the online edition of Clinical Infectious Diseases. Analysis of the records of over 2000 people with the chronic infection followed for an average of six years showed that a quarter did not have an annual assessment of a key marker of liver function, only a third had yearly measurement of hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA, and that 11% of people with cirrhosis had never had a liver ultrasound. Only 32% were prescribed HBV therapy and 44% of those with cirrhosis were not under treatment.
“We found that CHB [chronic hepatitis B] patients had suboptimal clinical monitoring and, accordingly, insufficient data to determine disease phase and antiviral treatment eligibility,” comment the researchers.
An estimated 850,000 individuals are living with chronic hepatitis B in the United States. The infection has four phases that depend primarily on alanine aminotransferase (ALT) level and HBV DNA levels. It is therefore essential that patients have these markers frequently assessed to guide decisions about treatment and care.