Source Pfleger Liver Institute, and the Division of Digestive Diseases, University of California School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA, USA, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is common with major clinical consequences worldwide. In Asian Americans, the HBsAg carrier rate ranges from 7 to 16%; HBV is the most important cause of chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Patients are first diagnosed at different stages of clinical disease, which is categorized by biochemical and virologic tests. Patients at risk for liver complications should be identified and offered antiviral therapy.
The two antiviral agents recommended for first-line treatment of chronic hepatitis B (CHB) are entecavir and tenofovir. The primary goal of therapy is sustained suppression of viral replication to achieve clinical remission, reverse fibrosis, and prevent and reduce progression to end-stage liver disease and HCC. Asian patients with chronic hepatitis, either HBeAg-positive or -negative, with HBV DNA levels >10(4) copies/mL (>2,000 IU/mL) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) values above normal are candidates for antiviral therapy. HBeAg-negative patients with HBV DNA >10(4) copies/mL (>2,000 IU/mL) and normal ALT levels but who have either serum albumin ≤3.5 g/dL or platelet count ≤130,000 mm(3), basal core promoter mutations, or who have first-degree relatives with HCC should be offered treatment. Patients with cirrhosis and detectable HBV DNA must receive antiviral therapy.
Considerations for treatment include pregnant women with high viremia, coinfected patients, and those requiring immunosuppressive therapy. In HBsAg-positive patients with risk factors, lifelong surveillance for HCC with alpha-fetoprotein testing and abdominal ultrasound examination at 6-month intervals is required. These recommendations are based on a review of relevant literature and the opinion of a panel of Asian American physicians with expertise in hepatitis B treatment.