U.S. residents living with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) often do not receive sufficient health care monitoring and are frequently not treated for the virus, even when they have serious liver damage, aidsmap reports. These facts are concerning considering that an estimated 850,000 people have chronic hep B in the United States.
Publishing their findings in Clinical Infectious Diseases, researchers from the Chronic Hepatitis Cohort Study (CHeCS) analyzed data on 2,338 people with chronic hep B between 2006 and 2013.
The study participants were followed for an average of 6.3 years, contributing a cumulative 14,000 years of follow-up.
Seventy-two percent of the participants received liver-related care from a specialist.
Seventy-eight percent of the participants had their ALT liver enzymes tested at least once a year. They were more likely to receive the test if they were 60 years old or older, male, white, had been prescribed HBV treatment and had received liver-related care from a specialist.
Thirty-seven percent of the participants had their HBV DNA monitored annually; 18 percent never received such testing. Factors that predicted this testing were similar to those predicting ALT screening.
One in four participants had cirrhosis of the liver. Fifty-four percent of this group received annual HBV DNA monitoring; 11 percent had never received the test.
Fifty-three percent of those with cirrhosis had never had a liver ultrasound, and only 27 percent of those who had received such an ultrasound got one annually. Only 14 percent of those with cirrhosis received a liver ultrasound annually.
Just 32 percent of the participants had been prescribed treatment for HBV. Forty-one percent of these individuals had cirrhosis, and 62 percent had elevated ALT and HBV DNA levels before starting treatment. Fifty-six percent of those with cirrhosis in the study had been prescribed HBV treatment.
To read the aidsmap article, click here.
To read the study abstract, click here.