Hepatitis B: overview of the burden of disease in the Asia-Pacific region


Prof. Laurentius A. Lesmana, MD, PhD, Department of Medicine, University of Indonesia, Jakarta, JI Gereja Theresia 7, JI Salemba 6, Jakarta 10350 Indonesia.
Tel: +62 21 310 6968
Fax: +62 21 391 9936
e-mail: llesmana@cbn.net.id


Abstract: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and its liver-related complications are a substantial health concern in the Asia-Pacific region. Over the last two decades, public health interventions and the implementation of universal vaccination programs have substantially reduced the incidence of HBV infections in many countries in this region. However, large proportions of individuals remain chronically infected and subject to an increased risk for serious sequelae, including cirrhosis, decompensated liver disease, and hepatocellular carcinoma. The management of HBV infection varies throughout the Asia-Pacific region, with each country confronting different issues related to prevention, screening, and treatment. These issues include the availability of diagnostic testing and treatment, the cost of diagnosis and treatment, the availability of trained medical professionals and medical facilities, and disease awareness among primary care physicians and the public. This article reviews the epidemiology of HBV infection in the Asia-Pacific region, explains factors influencing hepatitis B prevalence and prevention, and discusses barriers to prevention and treatment of chronic hepatitis B and its liver-related complications.