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Keywords:

  • antiviral therapy;
  • HBeAg seroconversion;
  • hepatitis B;
  • hepatocellular carcinoma;
  • liver cirrhosis;
  • vaccination

Abstract

Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a major health problem in the Asia-Pacific region. In the past decade, much progress has been made in the understanding and management of this disease. The introduction of universal vaccination has significantly reduced the incidence of perinatal infection in most Asia-Pacific countries. As the majority of the adult population have not been immunized at birth, we are still facing a large population of young HBV-infected patients in the coming two decades. The study of long-term longitudinal databases has provided deeper insight into the clinical significance of HBV DNA suppression, hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) seroconversion and hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) seroclearance in chronic hepatitis B. With a better understanding on the natural history of HBV infection, one can now stratify the risk of chronic hepatitis B patients for adverse clinical outcomes and use this to individualize management. The introduction of non-invasive assessment of liver fibrosis can potentially reduce the necessity of liver biopsy. There have also been great advances in the development of antiviral therapy in the past decade. However, the high cost of HBV antiviral drugs poses major challenges to health authorities in many Asia-Pacific countries. Properly performed cost-effective analysis and understanding on the best timing of stopping antiviral drugs will be important to facilitate the most appropriate allocation of resources.