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Semin Liver Dis. 2004;24 Suppl 1:17-21.

The natural history of chronic hepatitis B virus infection.

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Viral Hepatitis Program, Alaska Native Medical Center, Anchorage, Alaska 99508-5902, USA.


Three stages of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection are recognized: the immune tolerant phase, the chronic hepatitis B phase, and the inactive hepatitis B carrier phase. Active liver disease is most often found in persons with elevated aminotransferase levels and HBV DNA levels >10(5) copies/mL. Possible risk factors for developing liver disease include older age, male gender, presence of hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg), HBV genotype, mutations in the precore and core promoter regions of the viral genome, and coinfection with hepatitis D (delta) virus. All persons chronically infected with HBV should be followed every 6 to 12 months with aminotransferase levels. Those with elevated levels should be tested for HBeAg and its antibody (anti-HBe) as well as HBV DNA levels to determine if they are in need of further evaluation with a liver biopsy and are candidates for antiviral therapy. Future research will help clarify the outcome of chronic HBV infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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