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Keywords:

  • antiviral therapy;
  • core promoter variant;
  • HBV DNA;
  • HBV genotypes;
  • hepatitis B virus;
  • precore variant

Abstract: Background and Aims: The epidemiology of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in North America may be changing as a result of immigration from endemic countries. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of HBV genotypes, precore (PC) and core promoter (CP) variants, and the proportion of patients meeting treatment criteria for HBV.

Methods: A cross-sectional study of consecutive HBV patients attending a Canadian tertiary liver center was conducted. HBV DNA was quantified by polymerase chain reaction assay. HBV genotypes and variants were determined using a line probe assay.

Results: Two hundred and seventy-two patients were enrolled; 200 were not receiving treatment at enrollment, of whom 116 were men and 84 women with a mean age 42±14 years. Among this group, 177 (88%) patients were Asian and 19 (10%) were Caucasian and 69 (35%) patients were hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) positive. Genotypes B and C were found in 42% and 50% untreated patients, respectively; while CP and PC were detected in 52% and 43% patients, respectively. Approximately 20% patients not receiving treatment (29% HBeAg positive, 14% HBeAg negative) met AASLD guidelines for antiviral therapy. If lower cutoff values for alanine aminotransferase and HBV DNA levels were used, 49% patients would qualify for treatment.

Conclusions: The vast majority of patients at a Canadian tertiary referral center were Asian. Virological and clinical characteristics of these patients reflect their country of origin. Our findings highlight the need to monitor the changing patterns of HBV infection in countries with large immigrant populations.