Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is one of the world’s most common infectious diseases. In 2015, there were an estimated 4.7 million people living with chronic HBV in the European Union (EU), representing almost 1% of the population.1,2
Given that deaths resulting from chronic infection (e.g. cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer) occur in up to 25% of infected people,3 it is essential for primary care providers to play an active role in the screening, diagnosis and management of HBV.
How can primary care providers make a difference?
Opportunistically test individuals from populations at risk for HBV.
Correctly monitor patients with chronic HBV to assess for phase of disease and manage or refer accordingly.
Identify when a patient should be considered for treatment.
Test and vaccinate people susceptible to infection, especially family members (parents, siblings, children), household contacts and sexual contacts of patients with HBV.
The burden of HBV
Understanding the epidemiology and natural history of HBV helps primary care providers to target screening practices towards individuals at greatest risk of infection, and to identify potential candidates for treatment.
Hofstraat SHI, et al. Current prevalence of chronic hepatitis B and C virus infection in the general population, blood donors and pregnant women in the EU/EEA: a systematic review. Epidemiol Infect 2017;11:1-13.
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Hepatitis B and C epidemiology in selected population groups in the EU/EEA. Stockholm: ECDC; 2018.
Lavanchy D. Hepatitis B virus epidemiology, disease burden, treatment, and current and emerging prevention and control measures. J Viral Hepat 2004;11:97–107.
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