The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has recommended hepatitis B virus (HBV) screening for all adolescents and adults with risk factors for contracting the virus, Physicians Weekly reports.

Such risk factors include injecting drugs, being a man who has sex with men and being born in a region in which 2% or more of the population has HBV.

The recommendations are in draft form at this time, meaning they are available for public comment before final publication. They differ from those applying to hepatitis C, for which public health experts now recommend screening for all adults regardless of risk factors.

To establish the recommendation, Roger Chou, MD, of the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, and colleagues systematically updated the 2014 review on hep B testing in adolescents and adults who are not pregnant.

The team reviewed 50 studies and included 22 of them in the update. None of the studies, they found, directly assessed how screening versus not screening affected health outcomes.

The studies indicated that nearly all those diagnosed with HBV were identified through screening strategies that target people with risk factors for the virus.

According to 18 studies, receiving antiviral treatment, compared with receiving a placebo or not receiving treatment, was associated with a greater likelihood of achieving various intermediate indicators of health improvement. According to 13 randomized controlled trials, antiviral treatment might be associated with actual improved health outcomes.

The investigators concluded that testing for HBV had a moderate net benefit among adolescents and adults with risk factors for infection.

To read the HealthDay News article, click here.

To read the USPSTF recommendation, click here.