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J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2005 Jun;20(6):833-43.

Chronic hepatitis B virus infection in the Asia-Pacific region and Africa: review of disease progression.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, Fudan University Medical Center, Shanghai, China.


Countries in the the Asia-Pacific region and Africa tend to have the highest prevalence of hepatitis B infection worldwide. Hepatitis B infection progresses from an asymptomatic persistently infected status to chronic hepatitis B, cirrhosis, decompensated liver disease and/or hepatocellular carcinoma. The aim of this review was to summarize rates and risk factors for progression between disease states in the Asia-Pacific region and Africa. A literature search was conducted employing MEDLINE and EMBASE (1975-2003) using the following key words: hepatitis B, natural history, disease progression, cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma, mortality, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region. Bibliographies of articles reviewed were also searched. Ranges for annual progression rates were: (i) asymptomatic persistent infection to chronic hepatitis B, 0.84-2.7%; (ii) chronic hepatitis B to cirrhosis, 1.0-2.4%; and (iii) cirrhosis to hepatocellular carcinoma, 3.0-6.6%. Patients with asymptomatic persistent infection and chronic hepatitis B had relatively low 5-year mortality rates (<4%); rates (>50%) were much higher in patients with decompensated liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma. No data were found for progression rates in African populations. Hepatitis B e antigen was a risk factor for chronic hepatitis B, and bridging hepatic necrosis in chronic hepatitis B increased the risk of cirrhosis. Risk factors for hepatocellular carcinoma included cirrhosis, co-infection with hepatitis C virus, and genetic and environmental factors. In this review, wide ranges of disease progression estimates are documented, emphasizing the need for further studies, particularly in Africa, where progression rates are largely not available. Summarizing information on factors associated with disease progression should assist in focusing efforts to arrest the disease process in those at most risk.

(c) 2005 Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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