Update on viral hepatitis: 2005

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Purpose of reviewThis review aims to provide a concise summary of relevant developments in the treatment and prevention of viral hepatitis based on publications between December 2004 and November 2005.Recent findingsLong-term therapy with lamivudine was shown to reduce the incidence of adverse clinical outcomes in patients with chronic hepatitis B. This benefit was, however, diminished in patients with viral breakthrough. Combination therapy (peginterferon or telbivudine plus lamivudine) decreased the risk of antiviral resistance but did not improve response compared with monotherapy. Entecavir and tenofovir were shown to be effective in suppressing lamivudine-resistant hepatitis B. A shorter duration of peginterferon–ribavirin treatment was shown to be feasible in genotype 2/3 hepatitis C patients. Relapsers to previous standard interferon-based therapy had higher sustained virological response rates than previous non-responders when retreated with peginterferon–ribavirin. Hepatitis C patients with advanced liver disease may achieve sustained virological response with peginterferon–ribavirin treatment, but the complication rate was high.SummaryNew insights into the management of viral hepatitis have been gained over the past year. The problem of antiviral resistance in chronic hepatitis B is real and treatment options need to keep evolving. Advances have been made in hepatitis C treatment including patients with genotypes 2 or 3 infection and decompensated cirrhosis.

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