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 19 November 2017

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News

Prevalence of occult Hep B in a community-based population

Occult Hep B is higher in those with serologic evidence of previous Hep B virus infection than Hep B seronegative individuals and age, gender and liver biochemistry findings do not identify those with occult Hep B, finds the most recent issue of Journal of Hepatology.

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Occult Hepatitis B virus infection (Hepatitis B virus-DNA detection in Hepatitis B surface antigen-negative individuals) may cause acute and/or chronic liver disease.

Dr Minuka and colleagues from Canada documented the prevalence of occult Hepatitis B virus infection in an isolated, North American Inuit community.

487 individual with Hepatitis B surface antigen-negative sera (61% of the community population) were available for Hepatitis B virus-DNA testing.

The researchers reported that 80 (Group 1) had serologic evidence of resolved Hepatitis B virus infection and 407 (Group 2) were Hepatitis B virus -seronegative.

The research team detected Hepatitis B virus-DNA in 14 of the 80 subjects (18%) and S-variants in 12 of the 14 (86%) samples from Group 1.

S-variants are present in the majority of individuals with occult Hepatitis B virus infection
Journal of Hepatology

In Group 2, Hepatitis B virus-DNA was detected in 33 of the 407 samples (8%) and S-variants in 17 out of the 33 samples (52%).

The investigators noted that in all cases (Groups 1 and 2) viral loads were low (less than 105 viral copies/ml) and clinical or biochemical features did not distinguish Hepatitis B virus-DNA positive from negative individuals.

However, the researchers observed that S-variants were more common in older age groups.

Dr Minuka concludes, “The results of this study indicate that in this community-based population the prevalence of occult Hepatitis B virus infection is 18% in those with serologic evidence of previous Hepatitis B virus infection and 8% in Hepatitis B virus seronegative individuals.”

“This study also shows that age, gender and liver biochemistry findings do not identify those with occult Hepatitis B virus and S-variants are present in the majority of individuals with occult Hepatitis B virus infection.”

Journal of Hepatology 2005: 42(4):480-485
14 March 2005

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