Treating your chronic hep B patients.
Once diagnosed, chronic hep B (CHB) patients should be evaluated to determine the phase of infection and eligibility for treatment, according to accepted guidelines.1-3
Initial CHB patient pre-treatment evaluation1-4
The initial evaluation should include a thorough history and physical examination, followed by laboratory tests.
History and physical examination to assess:
- Risk factors for viral hepatitis
- Family history of HCC
- Route of transmission
- History of alcohol use
- Presence of comorbid diseases
- Duration of infection
- Risk factors for HIV coinfection
Laboratory tests may include:
- Serial testing for HBV DNA and ALT
- HBeAg and anti-HBe
- LFTs, including CBC with platelets, PLT, HFP, and PT
- HCC screening: MRI (preferred), computed tomography, AFP, or ultrasound
- HBV genotype
- Tests for antibodies to HAV, HCV, HDV, and HIV
- Transient elastography or liver biopsya
aLiver biopsy is optional for patients indicated for treatment, but may be helpful in those with normal ALT and >35-40 years of age.4
Identifying the phase of HBV infection
Chronic hep B follows a variable clinical course–not all patients will go through each phase (including resolution).4
Regular testing, including HBeAg status, ALT, and HBV DNA will help identify the patient's current phase of infection and determine the required course of action1,4
While treatment is not always indicated, patients will require lifelong monitoring5
Natural course of HBV infection
Figure adapted from Tong MJ, et al.6
Terminology in parenthesis is from the EASL 2017 guidelines.3
CHB Treatment goals
Decrease morbidity and mortalityrelated to CHB2
Prevent progressionof CHB to cirrhosis, end-stage liver disease and HCC6
“Antiviral agents active against HBV are available, and haves been shown to suppress HBV replication, prevent progression to cirrhosis, and reduce the risk of HCC and liver-related deaths.”
Overview of AASLD, AATA, EASL, and USTA CHB treatment guidelines and algorithms
Given the dynamic nature of chronic hepatitis B infection, ongoing monitoring of HBV DNA and ALT levels is important to characterize the phase of infection and to ensure that treatment is initiated when necessary.
Across current chronic hepatitis B guidelines, treatment initiation is guided by HBV DNA and ALT levels and/or the presence of cirrhosis.1,3,6
HBV DNA (IU/mL)
|AASLD 20181||>20,000||≥2×ULNb or significant liver diseasec,d|
|AATA 20186||>2000||>ULNb or significant liver diseasec/other risk factorse|
|EASL 20173||>2000||>ULNband/or evidence of liver diseasec,f|
HBV DNA (IU/mL)
|AASLD 20181||>2000||≥2×ULNb or significant liver diseasec,d|
|AATA 20186||>2000||>2×ULNb or significant liver diseasec/other risk factorse|
|EASL 20173||>2000||>2×ULNb or significant liver diseasec,f|
HBV DNA (IU/mL)
cNoninvasive testing showing significant fibrosis (≥F2) or liver biopsy showing moderate/severe inflammation (A2 or A3) and/or significant fibrosis (≥F2).
dTreatment can be considered for those >40 years of age, with a family history of cirrhosis or HCC, previous treatment history, or extrahepatic manifestations (presence of extrahepatic manifestation is an indication for treatment, independent of liver disease severity).
eAlbumin <3.5 g/dL, platelet count <130,000/mm3, presence of basal core promoter mutation, HCC in first-degree relative, or elevated AFP in the absence of HCC.
fHBeAg+ CHB patients with persistently high HBV DNA and normal ALT may be treated if they are >30 years old, regardless of the severity of liver histologic lesions. HBeAg+ or HBeAg− CHB patients with a family history of HCC or cirrhosis and extrahepatic manifestations can be treated even if typical treatment indications are not fulfilled. CHB patients with compensated or decompensated cirrhosis need treatment, with any detectable HBV DNA level and regardless of ALT levels.
3 points to discuss with your patients about CHB treatment
- Provide effective counseling and education about long-term effects of hepatitis B to help patients understand the severity of the disease
- Follow up with patients to ensure they understand the importance and goals of treatment
- Inform patients that treatment support programs may be available, if applicable