Background Epidemiological data concerning hepatitis B are scarce in France.
Aim To describe epidemiological, clinical, virological and histological features of HBsAg-positive patients followed at non-academic hospitals in France.
Methods Clinical, biological, virological and histological data of all HBsAg-positive consecutive patients observed from April 1, 2001 to May 31, 2002 in participating centres were recorded prospectively. Multivariate analyses of factors associated with significant fibrosis and cirrhosis were performed.
Results Nearly 1166 HBsAg-positive patients were seen in the 58 centres: 671 males and 495 females from metropolitan France (32%) and from outside metropolitan France (68%); mean age 41 ± 15 years. Twenty-nine percent of patients were probable HBsAg inactive carriers, while 50% had chronic hepatitis; 43% of these were HBeAg-positive and 57% HBeAg-negative. Liver biopsy had been performed in 558 (51%) patients; 205 (17.6%) patients had cirrhosis. By multivariate analysis, factors associated with significant fibrosis were: age >40 years (P < 0.05), HBeAg-negative status (P < 0.02) and histological activity (P < 0.0001). Factors associated with cirrhosis: age (P < 0.0001), platelet count <150 000/mm3 (P < 0.0001) and viral co-infection (P < 0.03).
Conclusion HBV infection represents a significant workload for hepatogastroenterologists at non-academic hospitals in France.