The Diversity and Management of Chronic Hepatitis B Virus Infections in the United Kingdom: A Wake-up Call

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Background. Through migration, diversity of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection has changed, affecting disease burden and control. We describe clinical and viral characteristics of chronic HBV in the United Kingdom.

Methods. A total of 698 individuals with chronic HBV infection were recruited from referral liver centers. Demographic, clinical, and laboratory data were collected.

Results. Sixty-one percent of patients were male, 80% were not born in the United Kingdom, and the largest ethnicity was East/Southeast Asian (36%). Twenty-two percent were hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) seropositive; 20.4% (59/289) had cirrhosis and 10 (1.7%) had hepatocellular carcinoma. Genotype D was most common (31%) followed by A, C, B, and E (20%, 20%, 19%, and 9%, respectively). Genotype was significantly associated with country of birth, length of time in the United Kingdom, HBeAg status, and precore and basal core promoter mutations. One-third were on treatment, with men independently more likely to be treated. Only 18% of those on treatment were on recommended first-line therapies, and 30% were on lamivudine monotherapy. Among treated individuals, 27% had antiviral drug resistance. Testing rates for human immunodeficiency virus, hepatitis C virus, and delta coinfections were low.

Conclusions. We demonstrated diversity of chronic HBV infections in UK patients, suggesting that optimal management requires awareness of the variable patterns of chronic HBV in countries of origin. We also found less-than-optimal clinical management practices, possible gender-based treatment bias, and the need to improve testing for coinfections.

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