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West J Med. 1984 May;140(5):754-62.

Hepatitis B virus infection. Current concepts of chronicity and immunity.


Among the three types of viral hepatitis agents-A, B and non-A, non-B-the hepatitis B virus (HBV) has been best characterized by immunologic and recombinant DNA technologies. The indefinite persistence of hepatitis B virus infection in 85% to 90% of perinatally infected infants and in about 10% of those infected later in life accounts for a worldwide epidemiologic reservoir of more than 200 million carriers who are at a high risk for the development of delta-infection, chronic liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma. Active immunization with a safe and effective vaccine, derived from the plasma of carriers of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), is envisaged to avoid viral hepatitis type B and its chronic sequelae. In addition to serologic and immunohistochemical markers of hepatitis B virus infection, hybridization assays using cloned HBV DNA have provided new insight into the biology of this virus, its persistence and its oncogenic potential in humans and in animal models. Genetic similarities have been recognized between HBV and the antigenically distinct non-A, non-B agents implicated in some cases of transfusion-associated chronic hepatitis. Structurally this unique group of HBV and HBV-like agents are DNA viruses with functional attributes of integration and replication analogous to the retroviruses.

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